Sleep deprivation suppresses aggression in Drosophila

Elife. 2015 Jul 28;4:e07643. doi: 10.7554/eLife.07643.


Sleep disturbances negatively impact numerous functions and have been linked to aggression and violence. However, a clear effect of sleep deprivation on aggressive behaviors remains unclear. We find that acute sleep deprivation profoundly suppresses aggressive behaviors in the fruit fly, while other social behaviors are unaffected. This suppression is recovered following post-deprivation sleep rebound, and occurs regardless of the approach to achieve sleep loss. Genetic and pharmacologic approaches suggest octopamine signaling transmits changes in aggression upon sleep deprivation, and reduced aggression places sleep-deprived flies at a competitive disadvantage for obtaining a reproductive partner. These findings demonstrate an interaction between two phylogenetically conserved behaviors, and suggest that previous sleep experiences strongly modulate aggression with consequences for reproductive fitness.

Keywords: D. melanogaster; aggression; neuroscience; octopamine; sleep; sleep deprivation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aggression*
  • Animals
  • Drosophila / physiology*
  • Octopamine / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Sleep Deprivation*


  • Octopamine