The natural variation of a neural code. Academic Article uri icon


  • The way information is represented by sequences of action potentials of spiking neurons is determined by the input each neuron receives, but also by its biophysics, and the specifics of the circuit in which it is embedded. Even the “code” of identified neurons can vary considerably from individual to individual. Here we compared the neural codes of the identified H1 neuron in the visual systems of two families of flies, blow flies and flesh flies, and explored the effect of the sensory environment that the flies were exposed to during development on the H1 code. We found that the two families differed considerably in the temporal structure of the code, its content and energetic efficiency, as well as the temporal delay of neural response. The differences in the environmental conditions during the flies' development had no significant effect. Our results may thus reflect an instance of a family-specific design of the neural code. They may also suggest that individual variability in information processing by this specific neuron, in terms of both form and content, is regulated genetically.

publication date

  • January 1, 2012