Gamma-aminobutyric acid immunoreactive feedback neurons of the protocerebral tract are a major component of the honeybee mushroom body. They have been shown to be subject to learning-related plasticity and provide putative inhibitory input to Kenyon cells and the pedunculus extrinsic neuron, PE1. We hypothesize, that learning-related modulation in these neurons is mediated by varying the amount of inhibition provided by feedback neurons. We performed Ca(2+) imaging recordings of populations of neurons of the protocerebral-calycal tract (PCT) while the bees were conditioned in an appetitive olfactory paradigm and their behavioral responses were quantified using electromyographic recordings from M17, the muscle which controls the proboscis extension response. The results corroborate findings from electrophysiological studies showing that PCT neurons respond to sucrose and odor stimuli. The odor responses are concentration dependent. Odor and sucrose responses are modulated by repeated stimulus presentations. Furthermore, animals that learned to associate an odor with sucrose reward responded to the repeated presentations of the rewarded odor with less depression than they did to an unrewarded and a control odor.
Keywords: GABA; calcium imaging; feedback neurons; mushroom body; plasticity.