Challenging the Mushroom Bodies

Science Signaling  14 Feb 2012:
Vol. 5, Issue 211, pp. ec50
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2002948

Early memory is labile and is gradually consolidated over time into long-lasting, stable memory. In several species, including mammals, memory consolidation depends on protein synthesis. In Drosophila, long-term memory is produced by spaced repetitive training, which induces cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP)–response element–binding protein (CREB)–dependent gene transcription and de novo protein synthesis. Using a large number of genetic tools, Chen et al. (see the Perspective by Dubnau) localized this CREB-dependent induction of de novo protein synthesis to two dorsal-anterior-lateral neurons in the adult brain. Importantly, protein synthesis was not required within the mushroom bodies, which are usually considered to be the site of associative learning and memory in insects.

C.-C. Chen, J.-K. Wu, H.-W. Lin, T.-P. Pai, T.-F. Fu, C.-L. Wu, T. Tully, A.-S. Chiang, Visualizing long-term memory formation in two neurons of the Drosophila brain. Science 335, 678–685 (2012). [Abstract] [Full Text]

J. Dubnau, Ode to the mushroom bodies. Science 335, 664–665 (2012). [Abstract] [Full Text]