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Neural Representations of Airflow in Drosophila Mushroom Body

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posted on 30.12.2008 by Akira Mamiya, Jennifer Beshel, Chunsu Xu, Yi Zhong

The Drosophila mushroom body (MB) is a higher olfactory center where olfactory and other sensory information are thought to be associated. However, how MB neurons of Drosophila respond to sensory stimuli other than odor is not known. Here, we characterized the responses of MB neurons to a change in airflow, a stimulus associated with odor perception. In vivo calcium imaging from MB neurons revealed surprisingly strong and dynamic responses to an airflow stimulus. This response was dependent on the movement of the 3rd antennal segment, suggesting that Johnston's organ may be detecting the airflow. The calyx, the input region of the MB, responded homogeneously to airflow on. However, in the output lobes of the MB, different types of MB neurons responded with different patterns of activity to airflow on and off. Furthermore, detailed spatial analysis of the responses revealed that even within a lobe that is composed of a single type of MB neuron, there are subdivisions that respond differently to airflow on and off. These subdivisions within a single lobe were organized in a stereotypic manner across flies. For the first time, we show that changes in airflow affect MB neurons significantly and these effects are spatially organized into divisions smaller than previously defined MB neuron types.

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