Learning the specific quality of taste reinforcement in larval Drosophila

Michael Schleyer, Daisuke Miura, Teiichi Tanimura, Bertram Gerber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


The only property of reinforcement insects are commonly thought to learn about is its value. We show that larval Drosophila not only remember the value of reinforcement (How much?), but also its quality (What?). This is demonstrated both within the appetitive domain by using sugar vs amino acid as different reward qualities, and within the aversive domain by using bitter vs high-concentration salt as different qualities of punishment. From the available literature, such nuanced memories for the quality of reinforcement are unexpected and pose a challenge to present models of how insect memory is organized. Given that animals as simple as larval Drosophila, endowed with but 10,000 neurons, operate with both reinforcement value and quality, we suggest that both are fundamental aspects of mnemonic processing—in any brain.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jan 19 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology


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