Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Even fruit flies have an orientation memory: Recall tested in a virtual space

10.07.2008
In order to cope with their environment, animals must be able to remember the location of their destination in situations in which they temporarily lose sight of it.

This ability, known as orientation memory, is found in primates and has now also been observed in fruit flies. "We can say for certain now that flies have an orientation memory," says Professor Roland Strauss of the Institute of Zoology at the University of Mainz.

Research conducted by his team has shown that flies can remember the position of an object for several seconds after the object has been removed from their environment. The scientists also found that this orientation memory is attributable to a small group of neurons. The results obtained by the neurobiologists in Mainz were published online in the scientific journal Nature.

For their investigations, Roland Strauss's team constructed what can be described as a 360 degree cinema screen from a cylinder and put their subject, the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, into this cylinder. Visual objects in the form of vertical black stripes were then displayed to the flies. Professor Strauss described the experiment as follows: "We showed them two objects at different locations and then had them vanish one after the other.

... more about:
»ability »object »orientation

Once the first object was no longer visible, the flies used the second object for orientation. When this object was also removed, the flies still moved in the direction of the first object, although this was no longer visible." In view of the behavior of the fruit flies, it can be concluded that they have the ability to store the position of their original destination in an orientation memory for at least four seconds. It is assumed that the animals have this ability in order to ensure that they can reach their destination in complex natural environments, even if they temporarily loose sight of it or have to make a detour. "This strategy is also known as 'path integration' and has been observed in other insects such as ants and bees," says Strauss.

Working on the assumption that the ability requires a signal path that is responsible for operant learning (learning by means of trial and error), the scientists were even able to identify the brain region in which this capability is localized. It was found that a small group of 40 neurons in the so-called ellipsoid body of the fly's brain was responsible. Here the ring neurons in the ellipsoid body play an important role as 'processors' of the impulses.

"This is where the memory function is located. Once this part of the brain has been removed, the recall ability is also lost. When it is intact, this small number of cells is enough to provide a fully functional orientation memory system." The neurobiologists suspect that the same neurotransmitter system that is responsible for the visual orientation memory in the pre-frontal cortex of monkeys is also responsible for the orientation memory in the central complex of fruit flies.

Prof. Dr. Roland Strauss | alfa
Further information:
http://www.uni-mainz.de
http://www.bio.uni-mainz.de/zoo/abt3/269.php

Further reports about: ability object orientation

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Transport of molecular motors into cilia
28.03.2017 | Aarhus University

nachricht Asian dust providing key nutrients for California's giant sequoias
28.03.2017 | University of California - Riverside

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A Challenging European Research Project to Develop New Tiny Microscopes

The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.

To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Transport of molecular motors into cilia

28.03.2017 | Life Sciences

A novel hybrid UAV that may change the way people operate drones

28.03.2017 | Information Technology

NASA spacecraft investigate clues in radiation belts

28.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>