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 Fish recognize their prey by electric colors
13.11.2018 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

nachricht The dawn of a new era for genebanks - molecular characterisation of an entire genebank collection
13.11.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Pflanzengenetik und Kulturpflanzenforschung

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 Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

Im Focus: Coping with errors in the quantum age

Physicists at ETH Zurich demonstrate how errors that occur during the manipulation of quantum system can be monitored and corrected on the fly

The field of quantum computation has seen tremendous progress in recent years. Bit by bit, quantum devices start to challenge conventional computers, at least...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

European Space Talks: Weltraumschrott – eine Gefahr für die Gesellschaft?

23.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

The dawn of a new era for genebanks - molecular characterisation of an entire genebank collection

13.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Fish recognize their prey by electric colors

13.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Ultrasound Connects

13.11.2018 | Awards Funding

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>