Taste is as important to fruit flies as it is to humans. Like humans, flies tend to seek out and consume sweet-tasting foods and reject bitter-tasting foods. However, little is known about how the brain circuits linking sensation and behavior represent sweet and bitter tastes.
In a new study published in biology todayresearchers at Brown University described how they developed a new imaging technique and used it to map neural activity in fruit flies in response to sweet and bitter tastes.
“These results show that the way the fly brain encodes food tastes is more complex than expected.” I conducted the research as
Gilad Barnea, professor of neuroscience at Browns Warren-Alpert School of Medicine and director of the Center for Cell and Circuit Neurobiology at the university’s Kearny Institute for Brain Sciences, said that just as important as the researchers’ findings were their findings. said to be the method used by
To learn more about the brain processes that govern a fly’s response to taste, Barnea, Snell, and a group of graduate and undergraduate students in Barnea’s lab developed a new imaging technique called ‘Science’.Trance-Tango (activity)” is an adaptation. Trance-Tango is a multi-purpose technique invented by Barnea Laboratories used to track neural circuits in the brain.barnea said Trance-Tango (Activity) takes your understanding to a new level by revealing how specific neurons in your circuit respond to stimuli.
Barnea explained that the brain’s response to stimuli is like a relay. The “stick” moves from one neuron to the next, and then to the next neuron. Previous techniques could identify neurons with sticks, but not who gave them the stick.
“Trance-Tango (activity) allowed us to selectively examine second-order neurons in the circuit, so we could focus on how they respond to sweet and bitter tastes.
Because the responses to sweet and bitter tastes are so different, the researchers expected that the neural activity along the circuits mediating these responses would also be completely different. Trance-Tango revealed some overlap in neural activity already in secondary neurons of these circuits in response to the two tastes.
Barnea said some of the results may indicate, for example, that flies know how to avoid certain rotten, poisonous, or otherwise bad parts of food. Overall, he said, the findings of the study underscore the importance of a refined and refined taste process.
“You have to remember that you can’t go wrong with eating, or feeding, whether it’s a fly or a human,” he said. Anyone who has paid a fortune to eat bad mussels can confirm this, so avoiding certain foods, or certain areas or parts of foods, is a good idea. The ability to know is important, for the survival of the species.”
Barnea was particularly intrigued because it may have revealed that it was not about survival, but about pleasure. Second-order neurons responded not only when the bitter taste was presented, but also when the bitter taste was removed. Surprisingly, Barnea and his colleagues found that there was some overlap in activity when bitterness was removed and sweetness was added.
Balnea recalls the concept of “aponia,” which in ancient Greek means “absence of pain,” and was regarded by Epicurean philosophers as the pinnacle of joy.
“The fact that we see neurons responding to both the removal of ‘bad’ stimuli (bitter taste) and the presentation of ‘good’ stimuli (sweet taste) is biologically reminiscent of this philosophical concept. Barnea added that future studies will explore this response further.
On why insect taste is important to humans, Barnea mentions insects that humans find particularly appealing, saying, “For example, understanding what drives the taste and olfactory behaviors of mosquitoes is important for learning. How do we reduce the impact on humans,” he said. “Our research may add small pieces to that big puzzle.”
This study shows how research questions can drive the development of new scientific methods and how they can be used to answer new research questions.
“We believe that Trance-Tango (activity) can be a useful tool not only for studying how the sense of taste works, but also for understanding neural circuits in general. They encode different kinds of information, and this information is relayed, transformed, or integrated as it travels from the peripheral layers of the neural circuit to deeper layers, a central problem in neuroscience. Trance-Tango (Activity) is perfectly equipped to answer such questions.”
It took Barnea over 20 years to develop Trance-Tango was successfully used in Drosophila, but it took the team just five years to develop and publish it. Trance-Tango (Activities) — Additional adaptations are currently in progress.
“The more we use technology, the better it gets, the more we can learn from it, and the more problems we can apply it to,” says Barnea.
This work was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (R01DC017146, R01MH105368) and the National Science Foundation (DGE1058262).