Decision-Making in the Fly

Science's STKE  03 Jul 2007:
Vol. 2007, Issue 393, pp. tw234
DOI: 10.1126/stke.3932007tw234

Even the humble fruit fly has choices to make and uses a rudimentary brainlike organ known as the mushroom body in the process. Zhang et al. studied choice in Drosophila while the animals were confronted with competing visual cues. Decision-making was based on two processes, one linear and the other nonlinear. The switch from linear to nonlinear decision-making involved dopamine function in the mushroom body. Without the integrity of dopamine-mushroom body circuits, flies could make simple perceptual decisions based on the subtraction of the saliency of the conflict cues (color versus position) but lost the ability to amplify the discrepancy at some crucial points.

K. Zhang, J. Guo, Y. Peng, W. Xi, A. Guo, Dopamine-mushroom body circuit regulates saliency-based decision-making in Drosophila. Science 316, 1901-1904 (2007). [Abstract] [Full Text]