Identifying behavioral circuits in Drosophila melanogaster: moving targets in a flying insect

Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2012 Aug;22(4):609-14. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2012.01.002. Epub 2012 Jan 27.


Drosophila melanogaster has historically been the premier model system for understanding the molecular and genetic bases of complex behaviors. In the last decade technical advances, in the form of new genetic tools and electrophysiological and optical methods, have allowed investigators to begin to dissect the neuronal circuits that generate behavior in the adult. The blossoming of circuit analysis in this organism has also reinforced our appreciation of the inadequacy of wiring diagrams for specifying complex behavior. Neuromodulation and neuronal plasticity act to reconfigure circuits on both short and long time scales. These processes act on the connectome, providing context by integrating external and internal cues that are relevant for behavioral choices. New approaches in the fly are providing insight into these basic principles of circuit function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Brain / anatomy & histology*
  • Connectome
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology*
  • Flight, Animal / physiology*
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / genetics
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / metabolism


  • Neurotransmitter Agents