The ability of flies to detect and fixate objects moving relative to their background was investigated in a flight simulator during translational tethered flight. The fly experienced optic flow that depended on its own actions and reactions in a similar way as in free-flight (closed-loop) conditions. Fixation of an object required turning responses towards it. The simulated distances between the fly, object and background were varied systematically by changing the velocities with which the object and the background pattern moved from the frontal to the back part of the fly's visual field. Fixation responses were only elicited when the object was simulated to be closer than the background. The fly's fixation performance was better with close than with more distant objects. Since, under many stimulus conditions, fixation responses were either elicited or entirely failed to be elicited, it is concluded that object fixation behaviour is gated in the visuo-motor pathway.

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