Distinct Memory Traces for Two Visual Features in the Drosophila Brain

Nature. 2006 Feb 2;439(7076):551-6. doi: 10.1038/nature04381.


The fly Drosophila melanogaster can discriminate and remember visual landmarks. It analyses selected parts of its visual environment according to a small number of pattern parameters such as size, colour or contour orientation, and stores particular parameter values. Like humans, flies recognize patterns independently of the retinal position during acquisition of the pattern (translation invariance). Here we show that the central-most part of the fly brain, the fan-shaped body, contains parts of a network mediating visual pattern recognition. We have identified short-term memory traces of two pattern parameters--elevation in the panorama and contour orientation. These can be localized to two groups of neurons extending branches as parallel, horizontal strata in the fan-shaped body. The central location of this memory store is well suited to mediate translational invariance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenylyl Cyclases / genetics
  • Adenylyl Cyclases / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Cues
  • Drosophila / genetics
  • Drosophila / physiology*
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Torque


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Adenylyl Cyclases
  • Rut protein, Drosophila