Cognition-like behavior of Drosophila

Aike Guo & Shiming Tang

Laboratory of visual information processing, Institute of Biophysics, Chinese Academy
of Sciences, Beijing, and Institute of Neuroscience, Chinese Academy of Sciences,
Shanghai, PR China

People often expect cognition from big brains, and less acknowledges the complexity and richer behavioral plasticity in small brains. But nevertheless Drosophila learning/memory study has earned its place as mature and serious discipline, and the studying basic cognition with small brains is already at its rocky beginning. It is well demonstrated that bees are able to use prior experience to advantage in detecting objects. It has been shown that the honeybees can develop a concept of bilateral symmetry or asymmetry. Context generalization in Drosophila visual learning was documented recently. The choice among food sources in honeybees is not random , but depends very much on the experience at the various food sources. Decision-making has been defined as the ability to choose an advantageous response from among an array of available options. Neuroscientists have begun to focus increasingly on the study of decision making in nonhuman primates and in humans. Decision theory proposed that animals choose the responses among alternatives on the basis of several variables, including the probability of reinforcement and the magnitude of reinforcement associated with different actions. But decision-making in mini-brain has not been addressed yet. We would like to explore basic cognition behavior in Drosophila in order to explore brain-mind relationship.