Neural correlates of olfactory learning paradigms in an identified neuron in the honeybee brain

J Neurophysiol. 1993 Feb;69(2):609-25. doi: 10.1152/jn.1993.69.2.609.


1. Sensitization and classical odor conditioning of the proboscis extension reflex were functionally analyzed by repeated intracellular recordings from a single identified neuron (PE1-neuron) in the central bee brain. This neuron belongs to the class of "extrinsic cells" arising from the pedunculus of the mushroom bodies and has extensive arborizations in the median and lateral protocerebrum. The recordings were performed on isolated bee heads. 2. Two different series of physiological experiments were carried out with the use of a similar temporal succession of stimuli as in previous behavioral experiments. In the first series, one group of animals was used for a single conditioning trial [conditioned stimulus (CS), carnation; unconditioned stimulus (US), sucrose solution to the antennae and proboscis), a second group was used for sensitization (sensitizing stimulus, sucrose solution to the antennae and/or proboscis), and the third group served as control (no sucrose stimulation). In the second series, a differential conditioning paradigm (paired odor CS+, carnation; unpaired odor CS-, orange blossom) was applied to test the associative nature of the conditioning effect. 3. The PE1-neuron showed a characteristic burstlike odor response before the training procedures. The treatments resulted in different spike-frequency modulations of this response, which were specific for the nonassociative and associative stimulus paradigms applied. During differential conditioning, there are dynamic up and down modulations of spike frequencies and of the DC potentials underlying the responses to the CS+. Overall, only transient changes in the minute range were observed. 4. The results of the sensitization procedures suggest two qualitatively different US pathways. The comparison between sensitization and one-trial conditioning shows differential effects of nonassociative and associative stimulus paradigms on the response behavior of the PE1-neuron. The results of the differential conditioning procedure reveal that the effect observed for the one-trial conditioning paradigm is of an associative nature and that there might be modulations, which are specific for single and multiple trial conditioning procedures. It is hypothesized that the PE1-neuron is a possible element involved in the short-term acquisition, rather than in the long-term storage, of an associative olfactory memory in the honeybee.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bees / physiology*
  • Brain / cytology
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Conditioning, Classical / physiology
  • Electrodes
  • Electrophysiology
  • Isoquinolines
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Memory / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Odorants
  • Sense Organs / physiology
  • Smell / physiology*
  • Stimulation, Chemical
  • Sucrose / pharmacology


  • Isoquinolines
  • Sucrose
  • lucifer yellow