Michael Jackson's famous "moonwalking" walk can also be replicated by other animals. When they encounter a wall, even the Drosophiles (gnats used in genetics laboratories) must retreat; they do this by activating neural circuits that are very different from those used to walk forward.
To find out how it happens, researchers from the Research Institute of Molecular Pathology in Vienna, Austria, have created a long series of mutant fly lines, each with a different arrangement of brain circuits: each fly had different neural networks than the others, activated by temperature.
By turning on or off various neurons, the scientists discovered which ones were coordinating various actions. They understood that two neurons are enough, one in the brain, one in the belly, to induce the Drosophila to walk backwards. One of the two neurons controls the reverse gear, the other inhibits the forward gear.
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