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Gap-climbing fruit flies reveal components of goal-driven behaviors

ng to reach a jar on a shelf high above her head, she will reach out with her arm and hand, will straighten her back, and tiptoe.

Studying the underlying control principles and neuronal circuits in invertebrates rather than in mice or cats involves fewer ethical problems and is less-expensive research.

Using noninvasive neurogenetic techniques for the analysis of the underlying motor-control system, Pick and Strauss showed that in order to reach a goal, flies compose complex motor patterns from different behavioral subunits. In their genetic analysis, the researchers found mutant flies with defects specifically in deciding whether to cross, another group of mutants performing the correct motor program at a wrong position, and still another group of mutants performing climbing actions at the correct position but without one of the three motor components. This goal-directed flexibility of the fly's motor programs characterized in the new work profoundly changes our view of how insect behavior is composed and employed in response to the environment.


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Source:Cell Press


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