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Dopaminergic neurons provide reward learning signals in mammals and insects [1-4]. Recent work in Drosophila has demonstrated that water-reinforcing dopaminergic neurons are different to those for nutritious sugars [5]. Here, we tested whether the sweet taste and nutrient properties of sugar reinforcement further subdivide the fly reward system. We found that dopaminergic neurons expressing the OAMB octopamine receptor [6] specifically convey the short-term reinforcing effects of sweet taste [4]. These dopaminergic neurons project to the β'2 and γ4 regions of the mushroom body lobes. In contrast, nutrient-dependent long-term memory requires different dopaminergic neurons that project to the γ5b regions, and it can be artificially reinforced by those projecting to the β lobe and adjacent α1 region. Surprisingly, whereas artificial implantation and expression of short-term memory occur in satiated flies, formation and expression of artificial long-term memory require flies to be hungry. These studies suggest that short-term and long-term sugar memories have different physiological constraints. They also demonstrate further functional heterogeneity within the rewarding dopaminergic neuron population.

Original publication




Journal article


Curr Biol

Publication Date





751 - 758


Animals, Animals, Genetically Modified, Appetitive Behavior, Dopaminergic Neurons, Drosophila Proteins, Drosophila melanogaster, Female, Male, Memory, Long-Term, Memory, Short-Term, Mushroom Bodies, Mutation, Nutritive Value, Receptors, Neurotransmitter, Reinforcement (Psychology), Reward, Taste