Learning and memory in Drosophila: behavior, genetics, and neural systems

Int Rev Neurobiol. 2011;99:139-67. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-387003-2.00006-9.


The rich behavioral repertoire that Drosophila use to navigate in their natural environment suggests that flies can use memories to inform decisions. Development of paradigms to examine memories that restrict behavioral choice was essential in furthering our understanding of the genetics and neural systems of memory formation in the fly. Olfactory, visual, and place memory paradigms have proven influential in determining principles for the mechanisms of memory formation. Several parts of the nervous system have been shown to be important for different types of memories, including the mushroom bodies and the central complex. Thus far, about 40 genes have been linked to normal olfactory short-term memory. A subset of these genes have also been tested for a role in visual and place memory. Some genes have a common function in memory formation, specificity of action comes from where in the nervous system these genes act. Alternatively, some genes have a more restricted role in different types of memories.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Drosophila / genetics
  • Drosophila / physiology*
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Models, Neurological
  • Mushroom Bodies / physiology
  • Neural Pathways / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*