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Nat Neurosci. 2014 Apr;17(4):559-68. doi: 10.1038/nn.3660. Epub 2014 Feb 23.

Sparse, decorrelated odor coding in the mushroom body enhances learned odor discrimination.

Author information

1
Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.
2
Janelia Farm Research Campus, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Ashburn, Virginia, USA.

Abstract

Sparse coding may be a general strategy of neural systems for augmenting memory capacity. In Drosophila melanogaster, sparse odor coding by the Kenyon cells of the mushroom body is thought to generate a large number of precisely addressable locations for the storage of odor-specific memories. However, it remains untested how sparse coding relates to behavioral performance. Here we demonstrate that sparseness is controlled by a negative feedback circuit between Kenyon cells and the GABAergic anterior paired lateral (APL) neuron. Systematic activation and blockade of each leg of this feedback circuit showed that Kenyon cells activated APL and APL inhibited Kenyon cells. Disrupting the Kenyon cell-APL feedback loop decreased the sparseness of Kenyon cell odor responses, increased inter-odor correlations and prevented flies from learning to discriminate similar, but not dissimilar, odors. These results suggest that feedback inhibition suppresses Kenyon cell activity to maintain sparse, decorrelated odor coding and thus the odor specificity of memories.

PMID:
24561998
PMCID:
PMC4000970
DOI:
10.1038/nn.3660
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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