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Curr Biol. 2011 Oct 11;21(19):1647-53. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2011.08.032. Epub 2011 Sep 29.

Parallel processing of appetitive short- and long-term memories in Drosophila.

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Genes and Dynamics of Memory Systems Group, Neurobiology Unit, CNRS, ESPCI, 10 Rue Vauquelin, 75005 Paris, France.


It is broadly accepted that long-term memory (LTM) is formed sequentially after learning and short-term memory (STM) formation, but the nature of the relationship between early and late memory traces remains heavily debated [1-5]. To shed light on this issue, we used an olfactory appetitive conditioning in Drosophila, wherein starved flies learned to associate an odor with the presence of sugar [6]. We took advantage of the fact that both STM and LTM are generated after a unique conditioning cycle [7, 8] to demonstrate that appetitive LTM is able to form independently of STM. More specifically, we show that (1) STM retrieval involves output from γ neurons of the mushroom body (MB), i.e., the olfactory memory center [9, 10], whereas LTM retrieval involves output from αβ MB neurons; (2) STM information is not transferred from γ neurons to αβ neurons for LTM formation; and (3) the adenylyl cyclase RUT, which is thought to operate as a coincidence detector between the olfactory stimulus and the sugar stimulus [11-14], is required independently in γ neurons to form appetitive STM and in αβ neurons to form LTM. Taken together, these results demonstrate that appetitive short- and long-term memories are formed and processed in parallel.

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