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J Exp Biol. 1997 Dec;200 (Pt 23):2969-76.

Behavioural analysis of olfactory conditioning in the moth spodoptera littoralis (Boisd.) (Lepidoptera: noctuidae)


We studied the associative learning capabilities for behaviourally relevant cues in the moth Spodoptera littoralis. The moths were trained to associate a conditioned stimulus (CS), geraniol odour, with an unconditioned stimulus (US), a sucrose solution. The occurrence of a proboscis extension reflex (PER) was tested. The PER performance during acquisition increased steadily with the number of training trials. Non-associative control procedures did not result in learning. PER conditioning was achieved when the CS was presented 1-3 s before the US. A wide range of inter-trial intervals was able to support conditioning. Males and females learned equally well. Moths could to some degree learn the CS-US association after a single trial. These results demonstrate that S. littoralis females and males have a good capability to associate an odour with a reward. The neural basis of olfactory coding in moths has been well studied; thus, the moth provides a powerful system in which to examine the neurobiology of olfactory learning.

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