The courtship song of the Drosophila male serves as a genetically tractable model for the investigation of the neural mechanisms of decision-making, action selection, and motor pattern generation. Singing has been causally linked to the activity of the set of neurons that express the sex-specific fru transcripts, but the specific neurons involved have not been identified. Here we identify five distinct classes of fru neuron that trigger or compose the song. Our data suggest that P1 and pIP10 neurons in the brain mediate the decision to sing, and to act upon this decision, while the thoracic neurons dPR1, vPR6, and vMS11 are components of a central pattern generator that times and shapes the song's pulses. These neurons are potentially connected in a functional circuit, with the descending pIP10 neuron linking the brain and thoracic song centers. Sexual dimorphisms in each of these neurons may explain why only males sing.
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