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The Complete Connectome Of A Learning And Memory Center In An Insect Brain

By Katharina Eichler, Ashok Litwin-Kumar, Ashok Litwin-Kumar, Youngser Park, Ingrid Andrade, Casey Schneider-Mizell, Timo Saumweber, Annina Huser, Claire Eschbach, Bertram Gerber, Richard D Fetter, James W. Truman, Carey E. Priebe, L. F. Abbott, Andreas S Thum, Marta Zlatic, Albert Cardona

Posted 24 May 2017
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/141762 (published DOI: 10.1038/nature23455)

Associating stimuli with positive or negative reinforcement is essential for survival, but a complete wiring diagram of a higher-order circuit supporting associative memory has not been previously available. We reconstructed one such circuit at synaptic resolution, the Drosophila larval mushroom body, and found that most Kenyon cells integrate random combinations of inputs but a subset receives stereotyped inputs from single projection neurons. This organization maximizes performance of a model output neuron on a stimulus discrimination task. We also report a novel canonical circuit in each mushroom body compartment with previously unidentified connections: reciprocal Kenyon cell to modulatory neuron connections, modulatory neuron to output neuron connections, and a surprisingly high number of recurrent connections between Kenyon cells. Stereotyped connections between output neurons could enhance the selection of learned responses. The complete circuit map of the mushroom body should guide future functional studies of this learning and memory center.

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