A dopamine-modulated neural circuit regulating aversive taste memory in Drosophila. Academic Article uri icon


  • Taste memories allow animals to modulate feeding behavior in accordance with past experience and avoid the consumption of potentially harmful food [1]. We have developed a single-fly taste memory assay to functionally interrogate the neural circuitry encoding taste memories [2]. Here, we screen a collection of Split-GAL4 lines that label small populations of neurons associated with the fly memory center-the mushroom bodies (MBs) [3]. Genetic silencing of PPL1 dopamine neurons disrupts conditioned, but not naive, feeding behavior, suggesting these neurons are selectively involved in the conditioned taste response. We identify two PPL1 subpopulations that innervate the MB lobe and are essential for aversive taste memory. Thermogenetic activation of these dopamine neurons during training induces memory, indicating these neurons are sufficient for the reinforcing properties of bitter tastant to the MBs. Silencing of either the intrinsic MB neurons or the output neurons from the lobe disrupts taste conditioning. Thermogenetic manipulation of these output neurons alters naive feeding response, suggesting that dopamine neurons modulate the threshold of response to appetitive tastants. Taken together, these findings detail a neural mechanism underlying the formation of taste memory and provide a functional model for dopamine-dependent plasticity in Drosophila.

published proceedings

  • Curr Biol

altmetric score

  • 1

author list (cited authors)

  • Masek, P., Worden, K., Aso, Y., Rubin, G. M., & Keene, A. C.

citation count

  • 85

complete list of authors

  • Masek, Pavel||Worden, Kurtresha||Aso, Yoshinori||Rubin, Gerald M||Keene, Alex C

publication date

  • June 2015