Further characterization of an aversive learning task in Drosophila melanogaster: intensity of the stimulus, relearning, and use of rutabaga mutants.
Perisse E., Portelli G., Le Goas S., Teste E., Le Bourg E.
Various learning tasks have been described in Drosophila melanogaster, flies being either tested in groups or at the individual level. Le Bourg and Buecher (Anim Learn Behav 33:330-341, 2002) have designed a task at the individual level: photopositive flies crossing a T-maze learn to prefer the dark exit when the lighted one is associated with the presence of aversive stimuli (humidity and quinine). Previous studies have reported various results (e.g. no effect of age) and the present article further characterizes this task by studying the possible effects of: (1) the intensity of the stimuli (quantity of water or concentration of quinine), (2) various delays between two learning sessions on the learning score at the second session, (3) the rutabaga learning mutation on the learning score. More concentrated quinine solutions increased learning scores but the quantity of water had no effect. Learning scores at the second session were higher with shorter delays between the two learning sessions and retrograde amnesia could decrease this memory score. rutabaga mutants showed learning deficits as in experiments testing groups of flies. This learning task could particularly be used to verify whether learning mutants isolated after experiments testing flies in groups display similar deficits when tested at the individual level.