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3 Janelia Publications

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    05/26/22 | One engram two readouts: stimulus dynamics switch a learned behavior in Drosophila
    Mehrab N Modi , Adithya Rajagopalan , Hervé Rouault , Yoshinori Aso , Glenn C Turner
    bioRxiv. 2022 May 26:. doi: 10.1101/2022.05.24.492551

    Memory guides the choices an animal makes across widely varying conditions in dynamic environments. Consequently, the most adaptive choice depends on the options available. How can a single memory support optimal behavior across different sets of choice options? We address this using olfactory learning in Drosophila. Even when we restrict an odor-punishment association to a single set of synapses using optogenetics, we find that flies still show choice behavior that depends on the options it encounters. Here we show that how the odor choices are presented to the animal influences memory recall itself. Presenting two similar odors in sequence enabled flies to not only discriminate them behaviorally but also at the level of neural activity. However, when the same odors were encountered as solitary stimuli, no such differences were detectable. These results show that memory recall is not simply a comparison to a static learned template, but can be adaptively modulated by stimulus dynamics.

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    05/25/22 | Expectation-based learning rules underlie dynamic foraging in Drosophila
    Adithya E. Rajagopalan , Ran Darshan , James E. Fitzgerald , Glenn C. Turner
    bioRxiv. 2022 May 25:. doi: 10.1101/2022.05.24.493252

    Foraging animals must use decision-making strategies that dynamically account for uncertainty in the world. To cope with this uncertainty, animals have developed strikingly convergent strategies that use information about multiple past choices and reward to learn representations of the current state of the world. However, the underlying learning rules that drive the required learning have remained unclear. Here, working in the relatively simple nervous system of Drosophila, we combine behavioral measurements, mathematical modeling, and neural circuit perturbations to show that dynamic foraging depends on a learning rule incorporating reward expectation. Using a novel olfactory dynamic foraging task, we characterize the behavioral strategies used by individual flies when faced with unpredictable rewards and show, for the first time, that they perform operant matching. We build on past theoretical work and demonstrate that this strategy requires the existence of a covariance-based learning rule in the mushroom body - a hub for learning in the fly. In particular, the behavioral consequences of optogenetic perturbation experiments suggest that this learning rule incorporates reward expectation. Our results identify a key element of the algorithm underlying dynamic foraging in flies and suggest a comprehensive mechanism that could be fundamental to these behaviors across species.

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    02/01/22 | Idiosyncratic learning performance in flies.
    Smith MA, Honegger KS, Turner G, de Bivort B
    Biology Letters. 2022 Feb 01;18(2):20210424. doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2021.0424

    Individuals vary in their innate behaviours, even when they have the same genome and have been reared in the same environment. The extent of individuality in plastic behaviours, like learning, is less well characterized. Also unknown is the extent to which intragenotypic differences in learning generalize: if an individual performs well in one assay, will it perform well in other assays? We investigated this using the fruit fly , an organism long-used to study the mechanistic basis of learning and memory. We found that isogenic flies, reared in identical laboratory conditions, and subject to classical conditioning that associated odorants with electric shock, exhibit clear individuality in their learning responses. Flies that performed well when an odour was paired with shock tended to perform well when the odour was paired with bitter taste or when other odours were paired with shock. Thus, individuality in learning performance appears to be prominent in isogenic animals reared identically, and individual differences in learning performance generalize across some aversive sensory modalities. Establishing these results in flies opens up the possibility of studying the genetic and neural circuit basis of individual differences in learning in a highly suitable model organism.

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