Shocking revelations and saccharin sweetness in the study of Drosophila olfactory memory.
Perisse E., Burke C., Huetteroth W., Waddell S.
It is now almost forty years since the first description of learning in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. Various incarnations of the classic mutagenesis approach envisaged in the early days have provided around one hundred learning defective mutant fly strains. Recent technological advances permit temporal control of neural function in the behaving fly. These approaches have radically changed experiments in the field and have provided a neural circuit perspective of memory formation, consolidation and retrieval. Combining neural perturbations with more classical mutant intervention allows investigators to interrogate the molecular and cellular processes of memory within the defined neural circuits. Here, we summarize some of the progress made in the last ten years that indicates a remarkable conservation of the neural mechanisms of memory formation between flies and mammals. We emphasize that considering an ethologically-relevant viewpoint might provide additional experimental power in studies of Drosophila memory.