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Elife. 2015 Nov 17;4:e10719. doi: 10.7554/eLife.10719.

Reward signal in a recurrent circuit drives appetitive long-term memory formation.

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Graduate School of Life Sciences, Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan.
Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology, Martinsried, Germany.
Janelia Research Campus, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Ashburn, United States.


Dopamine signals reward in animal brains. A single presentation of a sugar reward to Drosophila activates distinct subsets of dopamine neurons that independently induce short- and long-term olfactory memories (STM and LTM, respectively). In this study, we show that a recurrent reward circuit underlies the formation and consolidation of LTM. This feedback circuit is composed of a single class of reward-signaling dopamine neurons (PAM-α1) projecting to a restricted region of the mushroom body (MB), and a specific MB output cell type, MBON-α1, whose dendrites arborize that same MB compartment. Both MBON-α1 and PAM-α1 neurons are required during the acquisition and consolidation of appetitive LTM. MBON-α1 additionally mediates the retrieval of LTM, which is dependent on the dopamine receptor signaling in the MB α/β neurons. Our results suggest that a reward signal transforms a nascent memory trace into a stable LTM using a feedback circuit at the cost of memory specificity.


D. melanogaster; behavioral genetics; long-term memory; neuroscience; reward circuit

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