WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – According to a recent study out of Stanford, flies and humans share a computational strategy to perceive motion.

“What’s really exciting to me is that no one would have expected this deep similarity between two animals that are so evolutionary different,” Stanford’s Thomas Clandinin, as associate professor neurobiology and one of the study’s authors, told Medical Xpress.

Humans and flies last had a common ancestor that lived over 500 million years ago, however, both species’ ancestors have developed similar strategies to movement.

One of the co-author’s, Damon Clark, feels it is almost like the same model evolved twice because humans and flies are so far apart on the evolutionary tree.

Researchers were able to examine motion perception in flies and humans to learn about the visual system and the brain’s problem solving strategies. “The big question is really ‘How does the brain evolve,’” Anthony Norcia, another author of the study and Stanford professor of psychology told Medical Xpress.

Researchers suggests there may be a way to view moving objects which share the same fundamental properties. The team was able to statistically model these properties then James Fitzgerald, a theoretical neuroscientist and a co-author of the study developed a framework to test the theories.

They determined that both humans and flies discern three types of information about a moving object. The team tested their theories in both humans and flies.

“The ultimate hope is by finding an example of how flies solve this particular problem, it could give us some insight into how the brain solves problems more generally,” Fitzgerald said.

The study was published in this month’s issue of the journal Nature Neuroscience.


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