Dendritic Integration of Sensory Evidence in Perceptual Decision-Making

Cell. 2018 May 3;173(4):894-905.e13. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2018.03.075. Epub 2018 Apr 26.


Perceptual decisions require the accumulation of sensory information to a response criterion. Most accounts of how the brain performs this process of temporal integration have focused on evolving patterns of spiking activity. We report that subthreshold changes in membrane voltage can represent accumulating evidence before a choice. αβ core Kenyon cells (αβc KCs) in the mushroom bodies of fruit flies integrate odor-evoked synaptic inputs to action potential threshold at timescales matching the speed of olfactory discrimination. The forkhead box P transcription factor (FoxP) sets neuronal integration and behavioral decision times by controlling the abundance of the voltage-gated potassium channel Shal (KV4) in αβc KC dendrites. αβc KCs thus tailor, through a particular constellation of biophysical properties, the generic process of synaptic integration to the demands of sequential sampling.

Keywords: Drosophila melanogaster; decision-making; drift-diffusion model; forkhead box P transcription factors; membrane biophysics; neural integrator; olfaction; potassium channel; synaptic integration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / drug effects
  • Animals
  • Barium / pharmacology
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Brain / pathology
  • Cyclohexanols / pharmacology
  • Dendrites / metabolism*
  • Drosophila / physiology*
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Male
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Receptors, Odorant / metabolism
  • Shal Potassium Channels / genetics
  • Shal Potassium Channels / metabolism
  • Smell
  • Synapses / metabolism


  • Cyclohexanols
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors
  • FoxP protein, Drosophila
  • Receptors, Odorant
  • Shal Potassium Channels
  • Shal protein, Drosophila
  • Barium
  • 4-methylcyclohexanol