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Brain cartography - the fly mating dance neurons mapped

28 Sep 2010

How the bundles of neurons in the brain controls behaviour remains an ongoing mystery. Researchers from the Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP), in Vienna, Austria, and the Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB), Cambridge, United Kingdom, have mapped neurons of the fruit fly, Drosophila, that controls sexual behavior.

“We literally untangled the mess of wires in the fly brain and laid the ground plans for investigating a complex behavior in a simple organism,” says Jai Yu, whose doctoral work is published in Current Biology.

Not only do animals come in different shapes and sizes, variety is certainly not lacking when it comes to behavior. Each species is born with its own unique set of behaviours but how this is controlled by the brain is not well understood. This is where the fruit fly, Drosophila, can help. Sex is a behaviour the fruit fly does well. Their amazing reproductive prowess has ensured their successful spread throughout the world. Unlike their human counterparts, the male fruit fly is born knowing very well how to impress the female. Its brain is fully equipped with the right neurons that allow it to perform an intricate mating
dance to woo the female for copulation.

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