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Distinct memory traces for two visual features in the Drosophila brain

Author: Update time: 2009-09-03

Despite its tiny size, the fruitfly (Drosophila) brain is fairly intricate. Thanks to genetic innovations, neuroscientists from Professor Li Liu’s group managed to catch a first glimpse of the circuitry for visual pattern recognition within the fruitfly neural system. Together with their foreign co-workers, Professor Liu’s group found that the central-most part of the fly brain is a fan-shaped body, containing parts of a network mediating visual pattern recognition. They identified short-term memory traces of two pattern parameters - elevation in the panorama and contour orientation - which can be localized to two groups of neurons extending branches as parallel, horizontal strata in the fan-shaped body. A review about Liu’s paper was written by Professor W. Quinn from MIT in Nature (2006, 439: 546-548), “What Liu et al. make very clear is that genetic trickery has converted Drosophila from one of the worst organisms for functional neuroanatomy to one of the better ones. Indeed, for localizing individual, complex memories it may be the best.”

This work was published on Nature (2006, 439(776):551-556).



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