Modulations of microbehaviour by associative memory strength in Drosophila larvae

2019 | journal article; research paper

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​Thane, M., Viswanathan, V., Meyer, T. C., Paisios, E. & Schleyer, M. (2019). ​Modulations of microbehaviour by associative memory strength in Drosophila larvae. PLoS One14(10), Article e0224154​. ​doi: 

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Thane, Michael; Viswanathan, Vignesh; Meyer, Tessa Christin; Paisios, Emmanouil; Schleyer, Michael
Finding food is a vital skill and a constant task for any animal, and associative learning of food-predicting cues gives an advantage in this daily struggle. The strength of the associations between cues and food depends on a number of parameters, such as the salience of the cue, the strength of the food reward and the number of joint cue-food experiences. We investigate what impact the strength of an associative odour-sugar memory has on the microbehaviour of Drosophila melanogaster larvae. We find that larvae form stronger memories with increasing concentrations of sugar or odour, and that these stronger memories manifest themselves in stronger modulations of two aspects of larval microbehaviour, the rate and the direction of lateral reorientation manoeuvres (so-called head casts). These two modulations of larval behaviour are found to be correlated to each other in every experiment performed, which is in line with a model that assumes that both modulations are controlled by a common motor output. Given that the Drosophila larva is a genetically tractable model organism that is well suited to the study of simple circuits at the single-cell level, these analyses can guide future research into the neuronal circuits underlying the translation of associative memories of different strength into behaviour, and may help to understand how these processes are organised in more complex systems.
Issue Date
PLoS One 
FOR 2705: Dissection of a Brain Circuit: Structure, Plasticity and Behavioral Function of the Drosophila Mushroom Body 
Working Group
RG Gerber 



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