Martin Heisenberg

University of Wuerzburg, Würzburg, Bavaria, Germany

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Publications (126)836.35 Total impact

  • Narendra Solanki, Reinhard Wolf, Martin Heisenberg
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    ABSTRACT: Abstract Novelty choice, a visual paired-comparison task for the fly Drosophila melanogaster is studied with severely restrained single animals in a flight simulator. The virtual environment simulates free flight for rotation in the horizontal plane. The behavior has three functional components: visual azimuth orientation, working memory and pattern discrimination (perception). Here we study novelty choice in relation to its neural substrate in the brain and show that it requires the central complex and in particular the ring neurons of the ellipsoid body. Surprisingly, it also involves the mushroom bodies which are needed specifically in the comparison of patterns of different size.
    Journal of Neurogenetics 01/2015; DOI:10.3109/01677063.2014.1002661 · 1.38 Impact Factor
  • M Heisenberg
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    ABSTRACT: Abstract Behavior is not adequately described as a stimulus - response process. It is initiated by the animal and is generated because of its expected outcome in the future. The outcome can be good or bad for the animal. The brain is in charge of the selection process. This is the basic function of the brain. Taking Drosophila as a study case the essay discusses initiating activity, several examples of outcome expectations, trying out, the internal search for a suitable behavior, chaining of actions and the functional roles of chance in action selection. It takes mental processes and states such as goals, intentions, feelings, memories, cognition and attention as higher levels of behavioral control that have their origin in biological evolution.
    Journal of neurogenetics 04/2014; DOI:10.3109/01677063.2014.912279 · 0.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In a wide range of animals, uncontrollable stressful events can induce a condition called "learned helplessness." In mammals it is associated with low general activity, poor learning, disorders of sleep and feeding, ulcers, and reduced immune status, as well as with increased serotonin in parts of the brain. It is considered an animal model of depression in humans [1-4]. Here we investigate learned helplessness in Drosophila, showing that this behavioral state consists of a cognitive and a modulatory, possibly mood-like, component. A fly, getting heated as soon as it stops walking, reliably resumes walking to escape the heat. If, in contrast, the fly is not in control of the heat, it learns that its behavior has no effect and quits responding. In this state, the fly walks slowly and takes longer and more frequent rests, as if it were "depressed." This downregulation of walking behavior is more pronounced in females than in males. Learned helplessness in Drosophila is an example of how, in a certain situation, behavior is organized according to its expected consequences.
    Current biology: CB 04/2013; DOI:10.1016/j.cub.2013.03.054 · 10.99 Impact Factor
  • M Heisenberg
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    ABSTRACT: This essay is dedicated to Obaid on the occasion of his 80th birthday. We both worked on the behavior of Drosophila and on what underlies behavior in the fly brain. Is that the fly's mind? The essay is about some limitations of brain science. It is just a little piece of writing. It is meant to honor Obaid for his contributions to Drosophila neurogenetics in 40 years and to science in India. I hope he takes it instead of a bowl of flowers-adding to the praise.
    Journal of neurogenetics 05/2012; DOI:10.3109/01677063.2012.687796 · 0.73 Impact Factor
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    Satoko Yamaguchi, Martin Heisenberg
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    ABSTRACT: Visual behavior of insects has long been studied, but it is only recently that a wide variety of genetic tools has become available for its analysis. Perhaps the most basic visual behaviour is phototaxis, locomotion towards a source of light. It is known in many insects and has been studied for over a century but the neural network underlying it is little understood. We recently described in the fruit fly Drosophila how different photoreceptor types contribute to phototaxis. By blocking subsets of them we showed that at least four of the five types are involved. In this short review, we compare phototactic behaviour in fruit flies and other insects (especially honeybees), and discuss what is known about the underlying neural circuitry. :
    Fly 10/2011; 5(4). DOI:10.4161/fly.5.4.16419 · 1.48 Impact Factor
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    Preeti Sareen, Reinhard Wolf, Martin Heisenberg
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    ABSTRACT: Organisms with complex visual systems rarely respond to just the sum of all visual stimuli impinging on their eyes. Often, they restrict their responses to stimuli in a temporarily selected region of the visual field (selective visual attention). Here, we investigate visual attention in the fly Drosophila during tethered flight at a torque meter. Flies can actively shift their attention; however, their attention can be guided to a certain location by external cues. Using visual cues, we can direct the attention of the fly to one or the other of the two visual half-fields. The cue can precede the test stimulus by several seconds and may also be spatially separated from the test by at least 20° and yet attract attention. This kind of external guidance of attention is found only in the lower visual field.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 04/2011; 108(17):7230-5. DOI:10.1073/pnas.1102522108 · 9.81 Impact Factor
  • Martin Heisenberg
    Journal of neurogenetics 09/2010; 24(3):93-4. DOI:10.3109/01677063.2010.499979 · 0.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Current imaging methods such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Confocal microscopy, Electron Microscopy (EM) or Selective Plane Illumination Microscopy (SPIM) yield three-dimensional (3D) data sets in need of appropriate computational methods for their analysis. The reconstruction, segmentation and registration are best approached from the 3D representation of the data set. Here we present a platform-independent framework based on Java and Java 3D for accelerated rendering of biological images. Our framework is seamlessly integrated into ImageJ, a free image processing package with a vast collection of community-developed biological image analysis tools. Our framework enriches the ImageJ software libraries with methods that greatly reduce the complexity of developing image analysis tools in an interactive 3D visualization environment. In particular, we provide high-level access to volume rendering, volume editing, surface extraction, and image annotation. The ability to rely on a library that removes the low-level details enables concentrating software development efforts on the algorithm implementation parts. Our framework enables biomedical image software development to be built with 3D visualization capabilities with very little effort. We offer the source code and convenient binary packages along with extensive documentation at http://3dviewer.neurofly.de.
    BMC Bioinformatics 05/2010; 11:274. DOI:10.1186/1471-2105-11-274 · 2.67 Impact Factor
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    Satoko Yamaguchi, Claude Desplan, Martin Heisenberg
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    ABSTRACT: The visual systems of most species contain photoreceptors with distinct spectral sensitivities that allow animals to distinguish lights by their spectral composition. In Drosophila, photoreceptors R1-R6 have the same spectral sensitivity throughout the eye and are responsible for motion detection. In contrast, photoreceptors R7 and R8 exhibit heterogeneity and are important for color vision. We investigated how photoreceptor types contribute to the attractiveness of light by blocking the function of certain subsets and by measuring differential phototaxis between spectrally different lights. In a "UV vs. blue" choice, flies with only R1-R6, as well as flies with only R7/R8 photoreceptors, preferred blue, suggesting a nonadditive interaction between the two major subsystems. Flies defective for UV-sensitive R7 function preferred blue, whereas flies defective for either type of R8 (blue- or green-sensitive) preferred UV. In a "blue vs. green" choice, flies defective for R8 (blue) preferred green, whereas those defective for R8 (green) preferred blue. Involvement of all photoreceptors [R1-R6, R7, R8 (blue), R8 (green)] distinguishes phototaxis from motion detection that is mediated exclusively by R1-R6.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 03/2010; 107(12):5634-9. DOI:10.1073/pnas.0809398107 · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Most insertional mutagenesis screens of Drosophila performed to date have not used target chromosomes that have been checked for their suitability for phenotypic screens for viable phenotypes. To address this, we have generated a selection of stocks carrying either isogenized second chromosomes or isogenized third chromosomes, in a genetic background derived from a Canton-S wild-type strain. We have tested these stocks for a range of behavioral and other viable phenotypes. As expected, most lines are statistically indistinguishable from Canton-S in most phenotypes tested. The lines generated are now being used as target chromosomes in mutagenesis screens, and the characterization reported here will facilitate their use in screens of these lines for behavioral and other viable phenotypes.
    Journal of Neurogenetics 07/2009; 19(2):57-85. DOI:10.1080/01677060591007155 · 1.38 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Two Drosophila mutants are described in which the connections between the input to and the output from the mushroom bodies is largely interrupted. In all forms of the flies (larva, imago, male, female) showing the structural defect, olfactory conditioning is impaired. Learning is completely abolished when electroshock is used as reinforcement and partially suppressed in reward learning with sucrose. No influence of the mushroom body defect on the perception of the conditioning stimuli or on spontaneous olfactory behavior is observed. The defect seems not to impair learning of color discrimination tasks or operant learning involving visual cues.
    Journal of Neurogenetics 07/2009; 2(1):1-30. DOI:10.3109/01677068509100140 · 1.38 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Mutations in Ribosomal s6 kinase 2 (Rsk2) are associated with severe neuronal dysfunction in Coffin-Lowry syndrome (CLS) patients, flies and mice. So far, the mechanisms of how Rsk2 regulates development, maintenance and activity of neurons are not understood. We have investigated the consequences of Rsk2 deficiency in mouse spinal motoneurons. Survival of isolated Rsk2 deficient motoneurons is not reduced, but these cells grow significantly longer neurites. Conversely, overexpression of a constitutively active form of Rsk2 leads to reduced axon growth. Increased axon growth in Rsk2 deficient neurons was accompanied by higher Erk 1/2 phosphorylation, and the knockout phenotype could be rescued by pharmacological inhibition of MAPK/Erk kinase (Mek). These data indicate that Rsk2 negatively regulates axon elongation via the MAPK pathway. Thus, the functional defects observed in the nervous system of CLS patients and animal models with Rsk2 deficiency might be caused by dysregulated neurite growth rather than primary neurodegeneration.
    Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience 07/2009; 42(2):134-41. DOI:10.1016/j.mcn.2009.06.006 · 3.73 Impact Factor
  • Martin Heisenberg
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    ABSTRACT: Scientists and philosophers are using new discoveries in neuroscience to question the idea of free will. They are misguided, says Martin Heisenberg. Examining animal behaviour shows how our actions can be free.
    Nature 06/2009; 459(7244):164-5. DOI:10.1038/459164a · 42.35 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Ribosomal S6 kinases (RSKs) are growth factor-regulated serine-threonine kinases participating in the RAS-ERK signaling pathway. RSKs have been implicated in memory formation in mammals and flies. To characterize the function of RSK at the synapse level, we investigated the effect of mutations in the rsk gene on the neuromuscular junction (NMJ) in Drosophila larvae. Immunostaining revealed transgenic expressed RSK in presynaptic regions. In mutants with a full deletion or an N-terminal partial deletion of rsk, an increased bouton number was found. Restoring the wild-type rsk function in the null mutant with a genomic rescue construct reverted the synaptic phenotype, and overexpression of the rsk-cDNA in motoneurons reduced bouton numbers. Based on previous observations that RSK interacts with the Drosophila ERK homologue Rolled, genetic epistasis experiments were performed with loss- and gain-of-function mutations in Rolled. These experiments provided evidence that RSK mediates its negative effect on bouton formation at the Drosophila NMJ by inhibition of ERK signaling.
    Developmental Neurobiology 02/2009; 69(4):212-20. DOI:10.1002/dneu.20700 · 4.19 Impact Factor
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    Pavel Masek, Martin Heisenberg
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    ABSTRACT: Even in a simple Pavlovian memory task an animal may form several associations that can be independently assessed by the appropriate tests. Studying conditioned odor discrimination of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster we found that animals store quality and intensity of an odor as separate memory traces. The trace of odor intensity is short-lived, decaying in <3 h. Only the last intensity value is stored. In contrast to odor-quality memory, odor-intensity memory does not require the rutabaga-dependent cAMP signaling pathway. Flies rely on their memory of intensity in a narrow concentration range in which they can generalize intensity. Larger concentration differences they treat like different qualities. This study shows that the perceptual identity of an odor is based on at least three lines of processing in the brain: (i) a memory of odor quality, (ii) a memory of odor intensity, and (iii) a range of intensities (and qualities), in which the odor is generalized.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 10/2008; 105(41):15985-90. DOI:10.1073/pnas.0804086105 · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Whether motion vision uses color contrast is a controversial issue that has been investigated in several species, from insects to humans. We used Drosophila to answer this question, monitoring the optomotor response to moving color stimuli in WT and genetic variants. In the fly eye, a motion channel (outer photoreceptors R1-R6) and a color channel (inner photoreceptors R7 and R8) have been distinguished. With moving bars of alternating colors and high color contrast, a brightness ratio of the two colors can be found, at which the optomotor response is largely missing (point of equiluminance). Under these conditions, mutant flies lacking functional rhodopsin in R1-R6 cells do not respond at all. Furthermore, genetically eliminating the function of photoreceptors R7 and R8 neither alters the strength of the optomotor response nor shifts the point of equiluminance. We conclude that the color channel (R7/R8) does not contribute to motion detection as monitored by the optomotor response.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 04/2008; 105(12):4910-5. DOI:10.1073/pnas.0711484105 · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In mammals and humans, noradrenaline is a key modulator of aggression. Octopamine, a closely related biogenic amine, has been proposed to have a similar function in arthropods. However, the effect of octopamine on aggressive behavior is little understood. An automated video analysis of aggression in male Drosophila has been developed, rendering aggression accessible to high-throughput studies. The software detects the lunge, a conspicuous behavioral act unique to aggression. In lunging, the aggressor rears up on his hind legs and snaps down on his opponent. By using the software to eliminate confounding effects, we now show that aggression is almost abolished in mutant males lacking octopamine. This suppression is independent of whether tyramine, the precursor of octopamine, is increased or also depleted. Restoring octopamine synthesis in the brain either throughout life or in adulthood leads to a partial rescue of aggression. Finally, neuronal silencing of octopaminergic and tyraminergic neurons almost completely abolishes lunges. Octopamine modulates Drosophila aggression. Genetically depleting the animal of octopamine downregulates lunge frequency without a sizable effect on the lunge motor program. This study provides access to the neuronal circuitry mediating this modulation.
    Current Biology 03/2008; 18(3):159-67. DOI:10.1016/j.cub.2007.12.052 · 9.92 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Physical traces underlying simple memories can be confined to a single group of cells in the brain. In the fly Drosophila melanogaster, the Kenyon cells of the mushroom bodies house traces for both appetitive and aversive odor memories. The adenylate cyclase protein, Rutabaga, has been shown to mediate both traces. Here, we show that, for appetitive learning, another group of cells can additionally accommodate a Rutabaga-dependent memory trace. Localized expression of rutabaga in either projection neurons, the first-order olfactory interneurons, or in Kenyon cells, the second-order interneurons, is sufficient for rescuing the mutant defect in appetitive short-term memory. Thus, appetitive learning may induce multiple memory traces in the first- and second-order olfactory interneurons using the same plasticity mechanism. In contrast, aversive odor memory of rutabaga is rescued selectively in the Kenyon cells, but not in the projection neurons. This difference in the organization of memory traces is consistent with the internal representation of reward and punishment.
    The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience 11/2007; 27(41):11132-8. DOI:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2712-07.2007 · 6.75 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In the eye, visual information is segregated into modalities such as color and motion, these being transferred to the central brain through separate channels. Here, we genetically dissect the achromatic motion channel in the fly Drosophila melanogaster at the level of the first relay station in the brain, the lamina, where it is split into four parallel pathways (L1-L3, amc/T1). The functional relevance of this divergence is little understood. We now show that the two most prominent pathways, L1 and L2, together are necessary and largely sufficient for motion-dependent behavior. At high pattern contrast, the two pathways are redundant. At intermediate contrast, they mediate motion stimuli of opposite polarity, L2 front-to-back, L1 back-to-front motion. At low contrast, L1 and L2 depend upon each other for motion processing. Of the two minor pathways, amc/T1 specifically enhances the L1 pathway at intermediate contrast. L3 appears not to contribute to motion but to orientation behavior.
    Neuron 11/2007; 56(1):155-70. DOI:10.1016/j.neuron.2007.09.014 · 15.98 Impact Factor
  • M Ilius, R Wolf, M Heisenberg
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    ABSTRACT: Visual flight control is studied in three mutant alleles of the gene ellipsoid body open (ebo) of Drosophila melanogaster. In mutant ebo flies the central complex is disturbed to varying degrees. Defects range from a small opening in the ellipsoid body to the dissociation of the ring into two parts, a cleft in the fan-shaped body and hypoplasia in the protocerebral bridge. Other parts of the brain are not visibly affected. Flight behavior is normal with respect to the amplitude of the optomotor response and to the object response (single rotating stripe). A reduced amplitude in the small random oscillations of the torque trace (yaw torque activity), however, is found in all three alleles. In two of them the frequency of torque spikes is reduced. In the allele ebo(678) the dynamics of the optomotor response is altered. Upon reversal of the direction of rotation mutant flies take longer than wild type to shift their yaw torque to the new response level (optomotor reversal time). Finally, these flies also behave abnormally in the flight simulator in which their yaw torque controls the angular velocity of the panorama. Many ebo(678) flies fixate a single stripe less persistently than normal flies, some even trying to fly away from it (antifixation). In ebo(678) gynandromorphs the four behavioral phenotypes ("yaw torque activity", "torque spike frequency", "on-target-fixation" and "optomotor reversal time") are all highly correlated with the phenotype of the ellipsoid body. Yaw torque activity and torque spike frequency in addition are correlated with the phenotype of the thorax suggesting that these behavioral defects are in part caused by mutant influences on the ventral ganglion. The results support the hypothesis that the central complex is involved in the control of flight behavior.
    Journal of neurogenetics 01/2007; 21(4):321-38. DOI:10.1080/01677060701693503 · 0.73 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

8k Citations
836.35 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 1978–2011
    • University of Wuerzburg
      • • Department of Neurobiology and Genetics
      • • Institute for Hygiene and Microbiology
      • • Institute for Medical Radiation and Cell Research
      • • Theodor-Boveri-Institute
      Würzburg, Bavaria, Germany
  • 2001
    • Russian Academy of Sciences
      • Pavlov Institute of Physiology
      Moscow, Moscow, Russia
  • 1997
    • University at Albany, The State University of New York
      • Department of Biological Sciences
      New York, New York, United States
  • 1996
    • Academia Sinica
      • Institute of Physics
      T’ai-pei, Taipei, Taiwan
  • 1972–1996
    • Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics
      Tübingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany