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Lewis, L.P., Siju, K.P., Aso, Y., Friedrich, A.B., Bulteel, A.J., Rubin, G.M., Grunwald Kadow, I.C. (2015). A Higher Brain Circuit for Immediate Integration of Conflicting Sensory Information in Drosophila.  Curr. Biol. 25(17): 2203--2214.
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Animals continuously evaluate sensory information to decide on their next action. Different sensory cues, however, often demand opposing behavioral responses. How does the brain process conflicting sensory information during decision making? Here, we show that flies use neural substrates attributed to odor learning and memory, including the mushroom body (MB), for immediate sensory integration and modulation of innate behavior. Drosophila melanogaster must integrate contradictory sensory information during feeding on fermenting fruit that releases both food odor and the innately aversive odor CO2. Here, using this framework, we examine the neural basis for this integration. We have identified a local circuit consisting of specific glutamatergic output and PAM dopaminergic input neurons with overlapping innervation in the MB-β'2 lobe region, which integrates food odor and suppresses innate avoidance. Activation of food odor-responsive dopaminergic neurons reduces innate avoidance mediated by CO2-responsive MB output neurons. We hypothesize that the MB, in addition to its long recognized role in learning and memory, serves as the insect's brain center for immediate sensory integration during instantaneous decision making.

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Obtained with permission from Cell Press.
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