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J Exp Biol. 2005 Nov;208(Pt 22):4317-32.

Neural plasticity of mushroom body-extrinsic neurons in the honeybee brain.

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  • 1Freie Universität Berlin, Institut für Biologie-Neurobiologie, Koenigin-Luise-Strasse 28/30, D-14195 Berlin, Germany.


Central interneurons exiting the alpha lobe of the mushroom bodies were studied with respect to their plasticity by electrically stimulating their presynaptic inputs, the Kenyon cells. Special attention was given to the analysis of a single, identified neuron, the PE1. Three stimulation protocols were tested: double pulses, tetanus (100 Hz for 1 s), and tetanus paired with intracellular de- or hyper-polarization of the recorded cell. Double-pulse stimulations revealed short-term facilitation and depression, tuning the responses of these interneurons to frequencies in the range of 20-40 Hz. The tetanus may lead to augmentation of responses to test stimuli lasting for several minutes, or to depression followed by augmentation. Associative long-term potentiation (LTP) was induced in the PE1 neuron by pairing a presynaptic tetanus with depolarization. This is the first time that associative LTP has been found in an interneuron of the insect nervous system. These data are discussed in the context of spike tuning in the output of the mushroom body, and the potential role of associative LTP in olfactory learning. It is concluded that the honeybee mushroom body output neurons are likely to contribute to the formation of olfactory memory.

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