Navigation Links
Moths with a nose for learning
Date:10/2/2008

Much like Pavlov conditioned his dog to salivate in anticipation of food when a bell rang, insects can be trained to perform certain behaviors when enticed with different smells. Researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have discovered that when training insects, the interval between the signal, or odor, and the rewarddelicious sugar wateris everything. They also found that this process of building odor-sucrose associations would involve a mechanism that allows integration of neural activities (mental representations) that are not nearly coincident. Understanding how associations are built between stimuli and behavior gives insight into the nature of learning. Their findings were published online in Nature Neuroscience.*

Associations or meanings are formed when a connection is perceived among mental representations. In Pavlovs experiments the dog was taught to understand that the ringing of the bell meant food. In this case, the researchers conditioned a particular species of moth, Manduca sexta, to extend its proboscis in anticipation of a dollop of sucrose after being given a scent cue. The researchers attached electrodes to the insects mushroom bodies, a structure in their brains known to be integral to learning and memory, in order to observe the mental representation of the scent through spikes in activity across groups of neurons called Kenyon cells. By observing this process, the group hoped to characterize how odors are represented by this neural population and how this representation gets associated with the reward.

The group found that most of the odor-elicited spiking in the Kenyon cells occurred during the beginning and end of an odor pulse, with little to no spiking in between. NIST/NIH researcher Baranidharan Raman says that this is can be understood by considering the analogy of going into a coffee shop. The onset signal occurs upon entering and smelling the coffee for the first time. That smell remains intense and noticeable for a few moments before it fades into the background. Again, when you the leave the coffee shop, you notice that change, the offset signal represents that change of state, and it does not elicit as much activity as is caused by the onset.

The group found that the interval between the odor stimulus onset and sucrose reward was crucial to whether or not the insect learned to link the representations. If the sucrose was presented during the onset of spiking, the insect did not learn as well. Moreover, if the researchers used a long odor stimulus and administered the sucrose just after the offset signal (long after the onset), the insect wouldnt learn to expect it.

Learning, or the capacity to associate the cue and its reinforcement, occurs when reward was presented a few seconds after the onset of neural activity. Since most Kenyon cells have finished producing action potentials (or spikes) by the time the reward is presented, the odor-sucrose association cannot be achieved through a well-known model of learning called spike-timing dependent plasticity where nearly coincident spiking on a millisecond timescale results in the association of two events.

Raman says that the study of biological olfactory systems can offer significant insights into how to build artificial systems to discriminate odors with sensor arrays.


'/>"/>

Contact: Mark Esser
mark.esser@nist.gov
301-975-8735
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Teamwork improves learning and career success
2. Novel mechanism for long-term learning identified by Carnegie Mellon researchers
3. Learning from cod collapse to save tuna
4. Learning how to say no to alcohol advertising and peer pressure works for inner-city adolescents
5. Research with squirrels provides clues on hormones role in human learning
6. Distance learning course in radiation oncology for cancer treatment
7. Learning and the brain
8. Statin does not appear helpful for children with learning disabilities caused by genetic disorder
9. Relearning process not always a free lunch
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Moths with a nose for learning
(Date:4/5/2017)... 5, 2017 Today HYPR Corp. , ... server component of the HYPR platform is officially ... end-to-end security architecture that empowers biometric authentication across Fortune ... already secured over 15 million users across the financial ... connected home product suites and physical access represent a ...
(Date:3/30/2017)... March 30, 2017  On April 6-7, 2017, Sequencing.com ... Genome hackathon at Microsoft,s headquarters in ... will focus on developing health and wellness apps that ... Hack the Genome is the first hackathon for ... world,s largest companies in the genomics, tech and health ...
(Date:3/28/2017)... , March 28, 2017 ... Biometrics), Hardware (Camera, Monitors, Servers, Storage Devices), Software (Video ... and Region - Global Forecast to 2022", published by ... in 2016 and is projected to reach USD 75.64 ... 2017 and 2022. The base year considered for the ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:5/19/2017)... Philadelphia, PA (PRWEB) , ... May 19, 2017 ... ... for its QED Proof-of-Concept Program. Academic researchers with technologies ripe for commercialization, ... Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, are encouraged to submit proposals. QED, now in ...
(Date:5/18/2017)... ... ... NDA Partners Chairman Carl Peck, MD , announced today that Richard Kenley, ... Pharmaceutical Development Business Unit of Cardinal Health, has joined the firm as an Expert ... Chief Operating Officer at Anaborex, Senior VP and General Manager of the San Diego ...
(Date:5/18/2017)... ... May 17, 2017 , ... HOLLOWAY AMERICA, a leading manufacturer ... dairy, munitions, and pharmaceutical/biotech, recently introduced The Revolution Lift™, a new precision-controlled head ... in technology comes on the heels of HOLLOWAY’s release of the intelliVessel™, a ...
(Date:5/16/2017)... ... 16, 2017 , ... Genedata, a leading provider of advanced ... Group Meetings, which will be held in Boston, Cambridge/UK, Shanghai, and Tokyo. These ... data analysis and learn about the latest advances in screening technologies and applications. ...
Breaking Biology Technology: