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Knorr, Alexander G.; Gravot, Celine M.; Glasauer, Stefan and Straka, Hans (2021): Image motion with color contrast suffices to elicit an optokinetic reflex in Xenopus laevis tadpoles. In: Scientific Reports, Vol. 11, No. 1, 8445

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The optokinetic reflex is a closed-loop gaze-stabilizing ocular motor reaction that minimizes residual retinal image slip during vestibulo-ocular reflexes. In experimental isolation, the reflex is usually activated by motion of an achromatic large-field visual background with strong influence of radiance contrast on visual motion estimation and behavioral performance. The presence of color in natural environments, however, suggests that chromatic cues of visual scenes provide additional parameters for image motion detection. Here, we employed Xenopus laevis tadpoles to study the influence of color cues on the performance of the optokinetic reflex and multi-unit optic nerve discharge during motion of a large-field visual scene. Even though the amplitude of the optokinetic reflex decreases with smaller radiance contrast, considerable residual eye movements persist at the 'point of equiluminance' of the colored stimuli. Given the color motion preferences of individual optic nerve fibers, the underlying computation potentially originates in retinal circuits. Differential retinal ganglion cell projections and associated ocular motor signal transformation might further reinforce the color dependency in conceptual correspondence with head/body optomotor signaling. Optokinetic reflex performance under natural light conditions is accordingly influenced by radiance contrast as well as by the color composition of the moving visual scene.

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