Macroautophagy is an evolutionarily conserved cellular maintenance program, meant to protect the brain from premature aging and neurodegeneration. How neuronal autophagy, usually loosing efficacy with age, intersects with neuronal processes mediating brain maintenance remains to be explored. Here, we show that impairing autophagy in the Drosophila learning center (mushroom body, MB) but not in other brain regions triggered changes normally restricted to aged brains: impaired associative olfactory memory as well as a brain-wide ultrastructural increase of presynaptic active zones (metaplasticity), a state non-compatible with memory formation. Mechanistically, decreasing autophagy within the MBs reduced expression of an NPY-family neuropeptide, and interfering with autocrine NPY signaling of the MBs provoked similar brain-wide metaplastic changes. Our results in an exemplary fashion show that autophagy-regulated signaling emanating from a higher brain integration center can execute high-level control over other brain regions to steer life-strategy decisions such as whether or not to form memories.