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Elife. 2017 Sep 9;6. pii: e28804. doi: 10.7554/eLife.28804.

Simultaneous activation of parallel sensory pathways promotes a grooming sequence in Drosophila.

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Janelia Research Campus, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Ashburn, United States.


A central model that describes how behavioral sequences are produced features a neural architecture that readies different movements simultaneously, and a mechanism where prioritized suppression between the movements determines their sequential performance. We previously described a model whereby suppression drives a Drosophila grooming sequence that is induced by simultaneous activation of different sensory pathways that each elicit a distinct movement (Seeds et al., 2014). Here, we confirm this model using transgenic expression to identify and optogenetically activate sensory neurons that elicit specific grooming movements. Simultaneous activation of different sensory pathways elicits a grooming sequence that resembles the naturally induced sequence. Moreover, the sequence proceeds after the sensory excitation is terminated, indicating that a persistent trace of this excitation induces the next grooming movement once the previous one is performed. This reveals a mechanism whereby parallel sensory inputs can be integrated and stored to elicit a delayed and sequential grooming response.


D. melanogaster; competitive queuing; grooming; hierarchical suppression; mechanosensory; neuroscience; persistent neural activity; serial behavior

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