Login |

The larval mushroom body: a center for associative learning and memory

Research field: Learning & Memory

Anthi Apostolopoulou, Andreas Thum

Insect mushroom bodies are required for diverse behavioral functions, including odor learning and memory. Using the numerically simple olfactory pathway of the Drosophila melanogaster larva, we provide evidence that the formation of appetitive olfactory associations relies on embryonic-born intrinsic mushroom body neurons (Kenyon cells). The participation of larval-born Kenyon cells, i.e., neurons that become gradually integrated in the developing mushroom body during larval life, in this task is unlikely. These data provide important insights into how a small set of identified Kenyon cells can store and integrate olfactory information in a developing brain. To investigate possible functional subdivisions of the larval mushroom body, we anatomically disentangle its input and output neurons at the single-cell level. Based on this approach, we define 10 subdomains of the larval mushroom body that may be implicated in mediating specific interactions between the olfactory pathway, modulatory neurons, and neuronal output.

funding by: DFG, SNF
Project Picture

The picture shows the larval brain stained in magenta and the brain structure called mushroom body in green. The mushroom body is necessary to form associations of an odor and rewarding or punishing stimuli.

Project Picture

A detailed description of the substructures of the larval mushroom body.

Our shared enthusiasm drives us to unravel bolts and nuts for a better understanding of animal behavior. Many of our projects focus on neuronal mechanisms related to odor reception and odor information processing. We study neuronal networks with molecular tools, physiological measurements and behavioral experiments using free-moving animals.

All of our study organisms are insects because we strongly believe that insects offer great advantages for basic research, thereby providing significant contributions to the wide field of biological science. We work on the model organism Drosophila, and use the plethora of molecular tools to study the brain, both in larvae and adults. We investigate odor discrimination and learning in honeybees with behavioral experiments and functional imaging of brain activity; and we study several other social insect species (ants and bumblebees) aiming to close the gap between differences in neuronal representations and inter-individual variability in behavior. Inter-individual variability is an important feature of social insect colonies, promoting social decision-making and collective behavior.

The diversity of our projects reflects our belief that only a truly integrative research approach will lead to a profound understanding of brain functions, as well as of the proximate and ultimate causation of animal behavior.

For further information on specific projects, please select one of the research fields on the left.




Neurobiology Uni-Konstanz

Weather at our University

Climate rooms readout