Physiological properties and response modulations of mushroom body feedback neurons during olfactory learning in the honeybee, Apis mellifera
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- Grünewald, B. J Comp Physiol A (1999) 185: 565. doi:10.1007/s003590050417
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Mushroom bodies are central brain structures and essentially involved in insect olfactory learning. Within the mushroom bodies γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA)-immunoreactive feedback neurons are the most prominent neuron group. The plasticity of inhibitory neural activity within the mushroom body was investigated by analyzing modulations of odor responses of feedback neurons during olfactory learning in vivo. In the honeybee, Apis mellifera, feedback neurons were intracellularly recorded at their neurites. They produced complex patterns of action potentials without experimental stimulation. Summating postsynaptic potentials indicate that their synaptic input region lies within the lobes. Odor and antennal sucrose stimuli evoked excitatory phasic-tonic responses. Individual neurons responded to various odors; responses of different neurons to the same odor were highly variable. Response modulations were determined by comparing odor responses of feedback neurons before and after one-trial olfactory conditioning or sensitisation. Shortly after pairing an odor stimulus with a sucrose reward, odor-induced spike activity of feedback neurons decreased. Repeated odor stimulations alone, equally spaced as in the conditioning experiment, did not affect the odor-induced excitation. A single sensitisation trial also did not alter odor responses. These findings indicate that the level of odor-induced inhibition within the mushroom bodies is specifically modulated by experience.