Visual attention selection in a dragonfly neuron via dendritic bistability

Hector J. C. Villaseor, Zafeirios Fountas, Ben Torben-Nielsen & Klaus M. Stiefel

The centrifugal small-target motion detector neuron 1 (CSTMD1) is a higher-order visual neuron in the brain of the dragonfly. This neuron reacts to the presentation of multiple visual stimuli by firing as if only one of the stimuli was present; this is presumably an attentional selection mechanism. We simulate the large contralateral dendritic field of the CSTMD1 neuron with a biophysical multi-compartmental model. We find that with certain numbers of inhibitory synapses and potassium conductance densities, two mutually coupled CSTMD1 neurons are capable of a bistable switching process between two input patterns. This bistability can serve as a mechanism for the observed attentional selection. In future work, we hope to employ the principle used by the CSTMD1 neuron in neuromorphic devices showing attention-like target selection.