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Conflict or complement: Parallel memories control behaviour in Drosophila

Date: Friday, February 26, 2021 15:00 - 16:00
Speaker: Scott Waddell (University of Oxford)
Location: Online
Series: Neurotheory Forum
Host: Richard Londsdale
Contact: IST Austria / University of Oxford

Drosophila can learn to associate odours with reward or punishment and the resulting memories direct odour-specific approach or avoidance behaviours. Recent progress has revealed a straightforward model for learning in which reinforcing dopaminergic neurons assign valence to odour representations in the neural ensemble of the mushroom bodies. Dopamine directed synaptic depression alters the route of odour-driven activity through the mushroom body output network. This circuit configuration and influence of internal state guide the expression of appropriate behaviour. Importantly, learned behaviour is flexible and can be updated as the fly accumulates additional experience.  Our latest studies demonstrate that well-informed behaviour is guided by combining parallel conflicting and complementary memories of opposite valence. 

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