Cognitive Consonance: Complex Brain Functions in the Fruit Fly and Its Relatives

Trends Neurosci. 2004 Dec;27(12):707-11. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2004.10.002.


The fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, has become a model for the study of a growing number of human characteristics because of the power of its genetics. Higher cognitive functions, however, might be assumed to be out of reach for the little fly. But the cumulative history of cognitive studies in insects and some of their arachnid relatives, as well as specific probing of the capabilities of fruit flies, suggests that even in this ethereal realm these creatures have much to contribute. What are the degrees of sophistication in cognitive behavior displayed by these organisms, how have they been demonstrated, and what is their potential for understanding how our own brains work?

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bees / physiology*
  • Behavior, Animal*
  • Brain / physiology
  • Cognition*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Perception
  • Spiders / physiology*