OLFACTORY MEMORY FORMATION IN DROSOPHILA: From Molecular to Systems Neuroscience

Annual Review of Neuroscience

Vol. 28:275-302 (Volume publication date 21 July 2005)
First published online as a Review in Advance on March 17, 2005


The olfactory nervous system of insects and mammals exhibits many similarities, which suggests that the mechanisms for olfactory learning may be shared. Molecular genetic investigations of Drosophila learning have uncovered numerous genes whose gene products are essential for olfactory memory formation. Recent studies of the products of these genes have continued to expand the range of molecular processes known to underlie memory formation. Recent research has also broadened the neuroanatomical areas thought to mediate olfactory learning to include the antennal lobes in addition to a previously accepted and central role for the mushroom bodies. The roles for neurons extrinsic to the mushroom body neurons are becoming better defined. Finally, the genes identified to participate in Drosophila olfactory learning have conserved roles in mammalian organisms, highlighting the value of Drosophila for gene discovery.