Mapping the stereotyped behaviour of freely moving fruit flies

Gordon J. Berman, Daniel M. Choi, William Bialek, Joshua W. Shaevitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

278 Scopus citations


A frequent assumption in behavioural science is that most of an animal's activities can be described in terms of a small set of stereotyped motifs. Here, we introduce a method for mapping an animal's actions, relying only upon the underlying structure of postural movement data to organize and classify behaviours. Applying this method to the ground-based behaviour of the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, we find that flies perform stereotyped actions roughly 50% of the time, discovering over 100 distinguishable, stereotyped behavioural states. These include multiple modes of locomotion and grooming. We use the resulting measurements as the basis for identifying subtle sex-specific behavioural differences and revealing the low-dimensional nature of animal motions..

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number0672
JournalJournal of the Royal Society Interface
Issue number99
StatePublished - Oct 6 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Bioengineering
  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Biotechnology
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biomaterials


  • Behaviour
  • Drosophila
  • Phase reconstruction
  • Stereotypy
  • Unsupervised learning


Dive into the research topics of 'Mapping the stereotyped behaviour of freely moving fruit flies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this