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Elife. 2018 Jun 26;7. pii: e34275. doi: 10.7554/eLife.34275.

Optogenetic dissection of descending behavioral control in Drosophila.

Author information

1
Janelia Research Campus, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Ashburn, United States.
2
Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan.
3
Department of Physics, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.
4
The Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics, Princeton University, Princeton, United States.
5
Department of Physics, Princeton University, Princeton, United States.
6
Department of Biology, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.

Abstract

In most animals, the brain makes behavioral decisions that are transmitted by descending neurons to the nerve cord circuitry that produces behaviors. In insects, only a few descending neurons have been associated with specific behaviors. To explore how descending neurons control an insect's movements, we developed a novel method to systematically assay the behavioral effects of activating individual neurons on freely behaving terrestrial D. melanogaster. We calculated a two-dimensional representation of the entire behavior space explored by these flies, and we associated descending neurons with specific behaviors by identifying regions of this space that were visited with increased frequency during optogenetic activation. Applying this approach across a large collection of descending neurons, we found that (1) activation of most of the descending neurons drove stereotyped behaviors, (2) in many cases multiple descending neurons activated similar behaviors, and (3) optogenetically activated behaviors were often dependent on the behavioral state prior to activation.

KEYWORDS:

D. melanogaster; behavior; descending interneurons; neuroscience; optogenetics

PMID:
29943729
PMCID:
PMC6031430
DOI:
10.7554/eLife.34275
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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