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Cell Rep. 2012 Apr 19;1(4):392-9. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2012.03.002. Epub 2012 Apr 20.

Spatial representation of odorant valence in an insect brain.

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Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, Hans-Knöll Strasse 8, 07745 Jena, Germany.


Brains have to decide whether and how to respond to detected stimuli based on complex sensory input. The vinegar fly Drosophila melanogaster evaluates food sources based on olfactory cues. Here, we performed a behavioral screen using the vinegar fly and established the innate valence of 110 odorants. Our analysis of neuronal activation patterns evoked by attractive and aversive odorants suggests that even though the identity of odorants is coded by the set of activated receptors, the main representation of odorant valence is formed at the output level of the antennal lobe. The topographic clustering within the antennal lobe of valence-specific output neurons resembles a corresponding domain in the olfactory bulb of mice. The basal anatomical structure of the olfactory circuit between insects and vertebrates is known to be similar; our study suggests that the representation of odorant valence is as well.

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