Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

How neural circuits drive hungry individuals to peak performance: The secret of motivation

26.09.2019

Success is no accident: To reach your goal you need perseverance. But where does the motivation come from? An international team of researchers led by scientists from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has now identified the neural circuit in the brain of fruit flies which makes them perform at their best when searching for food.

The odor of vinegar or fruit lets fruit flies walk faster. To reach the food, they run until exhaustion. But despite their efforts, they do not get any closer to their goal: In the set-up at the laboratory of the TUM School of Life Sciences Weihenstephan the upper bodies of the tiny flies are fixed in place and the flies are running without getting anywhere.


Prof. Ilona C. Grunwald Kadow choses drosophila flies for her motivation experiments.

Image: Astrid Eckert / TUM


Set-up for measuring the motivation of fruit flies.

Image: A. Eckert / TUM

With the movement of their legs they are turning a ball which is floating on an air cushion. The turning speed shows neurobiologist professor Ilona C. Grunwald Kadow how much effort the fruit fly is putting into finding food.

“Our experiments show that hungry individuals keep increasing their performance – they run up to nine meters per minute. Fruit flies which are full give up much faster”, the researcher reports. “This proves that even simple organisms show stamina and perseverance – up to now, these qualities were thought to be reserved for humans and other higher organisms.”

A neural circuit controls perseverance

Together with Julijana Gjorgjieva, Professor for Computational Neuroscience at the Technical University of Munich and group leader at the Max-Planck-Institute for Brain Research in Frankfurt, as well as an international and interdisciplinary team of researchers, Grunwald Kadow has now identified a neural circuit in the brain of the small flies, which controls this kind of perseverance.

It is not a coincidence that the researchers investigated the motivation of fruit flies. “The brains of these flies have a million times fewer nerve cells than human brains. This makes it a lot easier to find out what an individual neuron does and how”, the professor explains. “In this way, we are able to understand the principles of neural circuits which also form the basis for the function of complex brains.”

The power of neurons

To identify the neural circuit which is responsible for motivation, the team used various techniques: First, a mathematical model was created which simulates the interaction of external and internal stimuli – for example the odor of vinegar and hunger.

In the next step, the neuroscientists of TUM identified the network of interest in the brain of the fruit fly in cooperation with colleagues in the USA and Great Britain. This was achieved with the help of electron microscopy as well as in-vivo imaging and behavioral experiments.

The result: The neural circuit of interest is located in the learning and memory center of the fly brain. It is controlled by the two neurotransmitters dopamine and octopamine, which is related to the human noradrenaline. Dopamine increases the activity of the circuit, i. e. increases motivation; octopamine reduces the willingness to make an effort.

“Since these neurotransmitters and the corresponding circuits also exist in the brains of mammals, we assume that similar mechanisms decide whether to continue or to stop”, concludes the neurobiologist. In the long term, the researchers hope that their findings will help to understand why the interaction of neurons and messenger substances in the brain, for example, in addictions gets out of control.

Wissenschaftliche Ansprechpartner:

Prof. Dr. Ilona Grunwald Kadow

Technical University of Munich
TUM School of Life Sciences
ZIEL – Institute for Food and Health

Liesel-Beckmann-Str. 4, 85354 Freising, Germany
Tel.: +49 8161 71 2440 – E-Mail: ilona.grunwald@tum.de

Originalpublikation:

Sercan Sayin, Jean-Francois De Backer, K.P. Siju, Marina E. Wosniack, Laurence P. Lewis, Lisa-Marie Frisch, Benedikt Gansen, Philipp Schlegel, Amelia Edmondson-Stait, Nadiya Sharifi, Corey B. Fisher, Steven A. Calle-Schuler, J. Scott Lauritzen, Davi D. Bock, Marta Costa, Gregory S.X.E. Jefferis, Julijana Gjorgjieva, Ilona C. Grunwald Kadow
A Neural Circuit Arbitrates between Persistence and Withdrawal in Hungry Drosophila
Neuron 104, 1–15, November 6, 2019 – DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2019.07.028
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2019.07.028

Weitere Informationen:

https://www.tum.de/nc/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35707/ Link to the press release

Dr. Ulrich Marsch | Technische Universität München
Further information:
http://www.tum.de

Further reports about: flies fruit fly individuals neural circuit neurons neurotransmitters octopamine

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New deep-water coral discovered
22.10.2019 | Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

nachricht DNA-reeling bacteria yield new insight on how superbugs acquire drug-resistance
22.10.2019 | Indiana University

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 cavity leads to a strong interaction between light and matter

Researchers have succeeded in creating an efficient quantum-mechanical light-matter interface using a microscopic cavity. Within this cavity, a single photon is emitted and absorbed up to 10 times by an artificial atom. This opens up new prospects for quantum technology, report physicists at the University of Basel and Ruhr-University Bochum in the journal Nature.

Quantum physics describes photons as light particles. Achieving an interaction between a single photon and a single atom is a huge challenge due to the tiny...

Im Focus: Solving the mystery of quantum light in thin layers

A very special kind of light is emitted by tungsten diselenide layers. The reason for this has been unclear. Now an explanation has been found at TU Wien (Vienna)

It is an exotic phenomenon that nobody was able to explain for years: when energy is supplied to a thin layer of the material tungsten diselenide, it begins to...

Im Focus: An ultrafast glimpse of the photochemistry of the atmosphere

Researchers at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich have explored the initial consequences of the interaction of light with molecules on the surface of nanoscopic aerosols.

The nanocosmos is constantly in motion. All natural processes are ultimately determined by the interplay between radiation and matter. Light strikes particles...

Im Focus: Shaping nanoparticles for improved quantum information technology

Particles that are mere nanometers in size are at the forefront of scientific research today. They come in many different shapes: rods, spheres, cubes, vesicles, S-shaped worms and even donut-like rings. What makes them worthy of scientific study is that, being so tiny, they exhibit quantum mechanical properties not possible with larger objects.

Researchers at the Center for Nanoscale Materials (CNM), a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science User Facility located at DOE's Argonne National...

Im Focus: Novel Material for Shipbuilding

A new research project at the TH Mittelhessen focusses on the development of a novel light weight design concept for leisure boats and yachts. Professor Stephan Marzi from the THM Institute of Mechanics and Materials collaborates with Krake Catamarane, which is a shipyard located in Apolda, Thuringia.

The project is set up in an international cooperation with Professor Anders Biel from Karlstad University in Sweden and the Swedish company Lamera from...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

International Symposium on Functional Materials for Electrolysis, Fuel Cells and Metal-Air Batteries

02.10.2019 | Event News

NEXUS 2020: Relationships Between Architecture and Mathematics

02.10.2019 | Event News

Optical Technologies: International Symposium „Future Optics“ in Hannover

19.09.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

New deep-water coral discovered

22.10.2019 | Life Sciences

DNA-reeling bacteria yield new insight on how superbugs acquire drug-resistance

22.10.2019 | Life Sciences

Heat Pumps with Climate-Friendly Refrigerant Developed for Indoor Installation

22.10.2019 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>