Bettina Schnell


I am interested in how the fly brain processes visual information to control steering maneuvers during flight. To study that question I perform patch-clamp recordings from motion-sensitive neurons in tethered flying Drosophila while simultaneously measuring their turning responses. In particular I want to know how the visual information is transformed on the way from the sensory to the motor system and how the fly’s own behavior affects the processing of this information.

In this movie I made the fly is in closed loop meaning its behavior (measured as left minus right wing stroke amplitude) controls the velocity of the presented pattern. The simultaneous recording of an HS cell is shown below. HS cells respond to the horizontal motion of the pattern with graded changes in membrane potential.



Schnell B, Weir PT, Roth E, Fairhall AL, Dickinson MH. Cellular mechanisms for integral feedback in visually guided behavior. PNAS 111(15), 5700-5705 (2014).

Weir PT, Schnell B, Dickinson MH. Central complex neurons exhibit behaviorally gated responses to visual motion in Drosophila. J. Neurophysiol. 111, 62-71 (2014).

Cuntz H, Forstner F, Schnell B, Ammer G, Raghu SV, Borst A. Preserving Neural Function under Extreme Scaling. PLoS ONE 8(8), e71540 (2013).

Schnell B, Raghu SV, Nern A, Borst A. Columnar cells necessary for motion responses of wide-field visual interneurons in Drosophila. J. Comp. Physiol. A. 198, 389-395 (2012).

Eichner H, Joesch M, Schnell B, Reiff DF, Borst A. Internal Structure of the Fly Elementary Motion Detector. Neuron 70, 1155-1164 (2011).

Joesch M*, Schnell B*, Raghu SV, Reiff DF, Borst A. ON and OFF pathways in Drosophila motion vision. Nature 486, 300-304 (2010).
(*equal contribution)

Schnell B, Joesch M, Foerstner F, Raghu SV, Otsuna H, Ito K, Borst A, Reiff DF. Processing of horizontal optic flow in three visual interneurons of the Drosophila brain. J. Neurophysiol. 103, 1646-1657 (2010).

Hendel T, Mank M, Schnell B, Griesbeck O, Borst A, and Reiff DF. Fluorescence changes of genetic calcium indicators and OGB-1 correlated with neural activity and calcium in vivo and in vitro. J. Neurosci. 28, 7399-7411 (2008).

Rister J, Pauls D, Schnell B, Ting CY, Lee CH, Sinakevitch I, Morante J, Strausfeld NJ, Ito K, Heisenberg M. Dissection of the peripheral motion channel in the visual system of Drosophila melanogaster. Neuron  56, 155-170 (2007).


Ph.D, Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology, Germany, 2010.

Degree in Biology, University of Würzburg, Germany, 2006.