During olfactory learning in fruit flies, dopaminergic neurons assign value to odor representations in the mushroom body Kenyon cells. Here we identify a class of downstream glutamatergic mushroom body output neurons (MBONs) called M4/6, or MBON-β2β'2a, MBON-β'2mp, and MBON-γ5β'2a, whose dendritic fields overlap with dopaminergic neuron projections in the tips of the β, β', and γ lobes. This anatomy and their odor tuning suggests that M4/6 neurons pool odor-driven Kenyon cell synaptic outputs. Like that of mushroom body neurons, M4/6 output is required for expression of appetitive and aversive memory performance. Moreover, appetitive and aversive olfactory conditioning bidirectionally alters the relative odor-drive of M4β' neurons (MBON-β'2mp). Direct block of M4/6 neurons in naive flies mimics appetitive conditioning, being sufficient to convert odor-driven avoidance into approach, while optogenetically activating these neurons induces avoidance behavior. We therefore propose that drive to the M4/6 neurons reflects odor-directed behavioral choice.
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Animals, Appetitive Behavior, Avoidance Learning, Brain, Dopaminergic Neurons, Drosophila, Drosophila Proteins, Gene Expression, Mushroom Bodies, Neurons, Smell, Transcription Factors