Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Motivational states modulate how animals value sensory stimuli and engage in goal-directed behaviors. The motivational states of thirst and hunger are represented in the brain by shared and unique neuromodulatory systems. However, it is unclear how such systems interact to coordinate the expression of appropriate state-specific behavior. We show that the activity of two brain neurons expressing leucokinin neuropeptide is elevated in thirsty and hungry flies, and that leucokinin release is necessary for state-dependent expression of water- and sugar-seeking memories. Leucokinin inhibits two types of mushroom-body-innervating dopaminergic neurons (DANs) to promote thirst-specific water memory expression, whereas it activates other mushroom-body-innervating DANs to facilitate hunger-dependent sugar memory expression. Selection of hunger- or thirst-appropriate memory emerges from competition between leucokinin and other neuromodulatory hunger signals at the level of the DANs. Therefore, coordinated modulation of the dopaminergic system allows flies to prioritize the expression of the relevant state-dependent motivated behavior.

Original publication




Journal article


Nat Neurosci

Publication Date





2029 - 2039


Animals, Animals, Inbred Strains, Behavior, Animal, Cues, Dopaminergic Neurons, Drosophila, Female, Food Deprivation, Hunger, Male, Memory, Mushroom Bodies, Neural Inhibition, Neurons, Neuropeptides, Thirst, Water, Water Deprivation