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31 Publications

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    08/26/18 | Neural circuit basis of aversive odour processing in drosophila from sensory input to descending output.
    Paavo Huoviala , Michael-John Dolan , Fiona M. Love , Shahar Frechter , Ruairí J.V. Roberts , Zane Mitrevica , Philipp Schlegel , Alexander Shakeel Bates , Yoshinori Aso , Tiago Rodrigues , Hannah Cornwall , Marcus Stensmyr , Davi Bock , Gerald M. Rubin , Marta Costa , Gregory S.X.E. Jefferis
    bioRxiv. 2018 Aug 26:. doi: 10.1101/394403

    Evolution has tuned the nervous system of most animals to produce stereotyped behavioural responses to ethologically relevant stimuli. For example, female Drosophila avoid laying eggs in the presence of geosmin, an odorant produced by toxic moulds. Using this system, we now identify third order olfactory neurons that are essential for an innate aversive behaviour. Connectomics data place these neurons in the context of a complete synaptic circuit from sensory input to descending output. We find multiple levels of valence-specific convergence, including a novel form of axo-axonic input onto second order neurons conveying another danger signal, the pheromone of parasitoid wasps. However we also observe a massive divergence as geosmin-responsive second order olfactory neurons connect with a diverse array of ∼75 cell types. Our data suggest a transition from a labelled line organisation in the periphery to one in which olfactory information is mapped onto many different higher order populations with distinct behavioural significance.

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    05/15/18 | Reinforcement signaling of punishment versus relief in fruit flies.
    König C, Khalili A, Ganesan M, Nishu AP, Garza AP, Niewalda T, Gerber B, Aso Y, Yarali A
    Learning & Memory (Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y.). 2018 Jun;25(6):247-257. doi: 10.1101/lm.047308.118

    Painful events establish opponent memories: cues that precede pain are remembered negatively, whereas cues that follow pain, thus coinciding with relief are recalled positively. How do individual reinforcement-signaling neurons contribute to this "timing-dependent valence-reversal?" We addressed this question using an optogenetic approach in the fruit fly. Two types of fly dopaminergic neuron, each comprising just one paired cell, indeed established learned avoidance of odors that preceded their photostimulation during training, and learned approach to odors that followed the photostimulation. This is in striking parallel to punishment versus relief memories reinforced by a real noxious event. For only one of these neuron types, both effects were strong enough for further analyses. Notably, interfering with dopamine biosynthesis in these neurons partially impaired the punishing effect, but not the relieving after-effect of their photostimulation. We discuss how this finding constraints existing computational models of punishment versus relief memories and introduce a new model, which also incorporates findings from mammals. Furthermore, whether using dopaminergic neuron photostimulation or a real noxious event, more prolonged punishment led to stronger relief. This parametric feature of relief may also apply to other animals and may explain particular aspects of related behavioral dysfunction in humans.

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    Aso LabCardona LabZlatic LabTruman Lab
    03/16/18 | Functional architecture of reward learning in mushroom body extrinsic neurons of larval Drosophila.
    Saumweber T, Rohwedder A, Schleyer M, Eichler K, Chen Y, Aso Y, Cardona A, Eschbach C, Kobler O, Voigt A, Durairaja A, Mancini N, Zlatic M, Truman JW, Thum AS, Gerber B
    Nature Communications. 2018 Mar 16;9(1):1104. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-03130-1

    The brain adaptively integrates present sensory input, past experience, and options for future action. The insect mushroom body exemplifies how a central brain structure brings about such integration. Here we use a combination of systematic single-cell labeling, connectomics, transgenic silencing, and activation experiments to study the mushroom body at single-cell resolution, focusing on the behavioral architecture of its input and output neurons (MBINs and MBONs), and of the mushroom body intrinsic APL neuron. Our results reveal the identity and morphology of almost all of these 44 neurons in stage 3 Drosophila larvae. Upon an initial screen, functional analyses focusing on the mushroom body medial lobe uncover sparse and specific functions of its dopaminergic MBINs, its MBONs, and of the GABAergic APL neuron across three behavioral tasks, namely odor preference, taste preference, and associative learning between odor and taste. Our results thus provide a cellular-resolution study case of how brains organize behavior.

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    07/18/17 | A connectome of a learning and memory center in the adult Drosophila brain.
    Takemura S, Aso Y, Hige T, Wong AM, Lu Z, Xu CS, Rivlin PK, Hess HF, Zhao T, Parag T, Berg S, Huang G, Katz WT, Olbris DJ, Plaza SM, Umayam LA, Aniceto R, Chang L, Lauchie S, et al
    eLife. 2017 Jul 18;6:e26975. doi: 10.7554/eLife.26975

    Understanding memory formation, storage and retrieval requires knowledge of the underlying neuronal circuits. In Drosophila, the mushroom body (MB) is the major site of associative learning. We reconstructed the morphologies and synaptic connections of all 983 neurons within the three functional units, or compartments, that compose the adult MB’s α lobe, using a dataset of isotropic 8-nm voxels collected by focused ion-beam milling scanning electron microscopy. We found that Kenyon cells (KCs), whose sparse activity encodes sensory information, each make multiple en passant synapses to MB output neurons (MBONs) in each compartment. Some MBONs have inputs from all KCs, while others differentially sample sensory modalities. Only six percent of KC>MBON synapses receive a direct synapse from a dopaminergic neuron (DAN). We identified two unanticipated classes of synapses, KC>DAN and DAN>MBON. DAN activation produces a slow depolarization of the MBON in these DAN>MBON synapses and can weaken memory recall.

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    05/09/17 | Representations of Novelty and Familiarity in a Mushroom Body Compartment.
    Hattori D, Aso Y, Swartz KJ, Rubin GM, Abbott LF, Axel R
    Cell. 2017 May 09;169(5):956-69. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2017.04.028

    Animals exhibit a behavioral response to novel sensory stimuli about which they have no prior knowledge. We have examined the neural and behavioral correlates of novelty and familiarity in the olfactory system of Drosophila. Novel odors elicit strong activity in output neurons (MBONs) of the α'3 compartment of the mushroom body that is rapidly suppressed upon repeated exposure to the same odor. This transition in neural activity upon familiarization requires odor-evoked activity in the dopaminergic neuron innervating this compartment. Moreover, exposure of a fly to novel odors evokes an alerting response that can also be elicited by optogenetic activation of α'3 MBONs. Silencing these MBONs eliminates the alerting behavior. These data suggest that the α'3 compartment plays a causal role in the behavioral response to novel and familiar stimuli as a consequence of dopamine-mediated plasticity at the Kenyon cell-MBONα'3 synapse.

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    03/01/17 | A new brain dopamine deficient Drosophila and its pharmacological and genetic rescue.
    Cichewicz K, Garren EJ, Adiele C, Aso Y, Wang Z, Wu M, Birman S, Rubin GM, Hirsh J
    Genes, Brain, and Behavior. 2017 Mar.01 ;16(3):394-403. doi: 10.1111/gbb.12353

    Dopamine (DA) is a neurotransmitter with conserved behavioral roles between invertebrate and vertebrate animals. In addition to its neural functions, in insects DA is a critical substrate for cuticle pigmentation and hardening. Drosophila tyrosine hydroxylase (DTH) is the rate limiting enzyme for DA biosynthesis. Viable brain DA deficient flies were previously generated using tissue selective GAL4-UAS binary expression rescue of a DTH null mutation and these flies show specific behavioral impairments. To circumvent the limitations of rescue via binary expression, here we achieve rescue utilizing genomically integrated mutant DTH. As expected, our DA deficient flies have no detectable DTH or DA in the brain, and show reduced locomotor activity. This deficit can be rescued by L-DOPA/carbidopa feeding, similar to human Parkinson's disease treatment. Genetic rescue via GAL4/UAS-DTH was also successful, although this required the generation of a new UAS-DTH1 transgene devoid of most untranslated regions, since existing UAS-DTH transgenes express in the brain without a Gal4 driver via endogenous regulatory elements. A surprising finding of our newly constructed UAS-DTH1m is that it expresses DTH at an undetectable level when regulated by dopaminergic GAL4 drivers even when fully rescuing DA, indicating that DTH immunostaining is not necessarily a valid marker for DA expression. This finding necessitated optimizing DA immunohistochemistry, revealing details of DA innervation to the mushroom body and the central complex. When DA rescue is limited to specific DA neurons, DA does not diffuse beyond the DTH-expressing terminals, such that DA signaling can be limited to very specific brain regions.

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    07/21/16 | Dopaminergic neurons write and update memories with cell-type-specific rules.
    Aso Y, Rubin GM
    eLife. 2016 Jul 21;5:e16135. doi: 10.7554/eLife.16135

    Associative learning is thought to involve parallel and distributed mechanisms of memory formation and storage. In Drosophila, the mushroom body (MB) is the major site of associative odor memory formation. Previously we described the anatomy of the adult MB and defined 20 types of dopaminergic neurons (DANs) that each innervate distinct MB compartments (Aso et al., 2014a; Aso et al., 2014b). Here we compare the properties of memories formed by optogenetic activation of individual DAN cell types. We found extensive differences in training requirements for memory formation, decay dynamics, storage capacity and flexibility to learn new associations. Even a single DAN cell type can either write or reduce an aversive memory, or write an appetitive memory, depending on when it is activated relative to odor delivery. Our results show that different learning rules are executed in seemingly parallel memory systems, providing multiple distinct circuit-based strategies to predict future events from past experiences.

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    04/15/16 | Direct neural pathways convey distinct visual information to Drosophila mushroom bodies.
    Vogt K, Aso Y, Hige T, Knapek S, Ichinose T, Friedrich AB, Turner GC, Rubin GM, Tanimoto H
    eLife. 2016 Apr 15;5:e14009. doi: 10.7554/eLife.14009

    Previously, we identified that visual and olfactory associative memories of Drosophila share the mushroom body (MB) circuits (Vogt et al. 2014). Despite well-characterized odor representations in the Drosophila MB, the MB circuit for visual information is totally unknown. Here we show that a small subset of MB Kenyon cells (KCs) selectively responds to visual but not olfactory stimulation. The dendrites of these atypical KCs form a ventral accessory calyx (vAC), distinct from the main calyx that receives olfactory input. We identified two types of visual projection neurons (VPNs) directly connecting the optic lobes and the vAC. Strikingly, these VPNs are differentially required for visual memories of color and brightness. The segregation of visual and olfactory domains in the MB allows independent processing of distinct sensory memories and may be a conserved form of sensory representations among insects.

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    12/02/15 | Heterosynaptic plasticity underlies aversive olfactory learning in Drosophila
    Hige T, Aso Y, Modi M, Rubin GM, Turner GC
    Neuron. 2015 Dec 2;88(5):985-98. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2015.11.003

    Although associative learning has been localized to specific brain areas in many animals, identifying the underlying synaptic processes in vivo has been difficult. Here, we provide the first demonstration of long-term synaptic plasticity at the output site of the Drosophila mushroom body. Pairing an odor with activation of specific dopamine neurons induces both learning and odor-specific synaptic depression. The plasticity induction strictly depends on the temporal order of the two stimuli, replicating the logical requirement for associative learning. Furthermore, we reveal that dopamine action is confined to and distinct across different anatomical compartments of the mushroom body lobes. Finally, we find that overlap between sparse representations of different odors defines both stimulus specificity of the plasticity and generalizability of associative memories across odors. Thus, the plasticity we find here not only manifests important features of associative learning but also provides general insights into how a sparse sensory code is read out.

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    11/18/15 | Reward signal in a recurrent circuit drives appetitive long-term memory formation.
    Ichinose T, Aso Y, Yamagata N, Abe A, Rubin GM, Tanimoto H
    eLife. 2015 Nov 18;4:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.10719

    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.

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