Insulin signaling plays a critical role in coupling external changes to animal physiology and behavior. Despite remarkable conservation in the insulin signaling pathway components across species, divergence in the mechanism and function of the signal is evident. Focusing on recent findings from C. elegans, D. melanogaster and mammals, we discuss the role of insulin signaling in regulating adult neuronal function and behavior. In particular, we describe the transcription-dependent and transcription-independent aspects of insulin signaling across these three species. Interestingly, we find evidence of diverse mechanisms underlying complex networks of peptide action in modulating nervous system function.