Place learning overrides innate behaviors in Drosophila

Vincent Baggett, Aditi Mishra, Abigail L. Kehrer, Abbey O. Robinson, Paul Shaw, Troy Zars

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Animals in a natural environment confront many sensory cues. Some of these cues bias behavioral decisions independent of experience, and action selection can reveal a stimulus-response (S-R) connection. However, in a changing environment it would be a benefit for an animal to update behavioral action selection based on experience, and learning might modify even strong S-R relationships. How animals use learning to modify S-R relationships is a largely open question. Three sensory stimuli, air, light, and gravity sources were presented to individual Drosophila melanogaster in both naïe and place conditioning situations. Flies were tested for a potential modification of the S-R relationships of anemotaxis, phototaxis, and negative gravitaxis by a contingency that associated place with high temperature. With two stimuli, significant S-R relationships were abandoned when the cue was in conflict with the place learning contingency. The role of the dunce (dnc) cAMP-phosphodiesterase and the rutabaga (rut) adenylyl cyclase were examined in all conditions. Both dnc1 and rut2080 mutant flies failed to display significant S-R relationships with two attractive cues, and have characteristically lower conditioning scores under most conditions. Thus, learning can have profound effects on separate native S-R relationships in multiple contexts, and mutation of the dnc and rut genes reveal complex effects on behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)122-128
Number of pages7
JournalLearning and Memory
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2018


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