Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, Volume 179, Issue 3, pp 429–436 | Cite as

A new paradigm for operant conditioning of Drosophila melanogaster

  • G. Wustmann
  • K. Rein
  • R. Wolf
  • M. Heisenberg
Original Paper


A freely walking single fly (Drosophila melanogaster) can be conditioned to avoid one side of a small test chamber if the chamber is heated whenever the fly enters this side. In a subsequent memory test without heat it keeps avoiding the heat-associated side. The memory mutants dunce1 and rutabaga1 successfully avoid the heated side but show no avoidance in the memory test. Wildtype flies can be trained to successively avoid alternating sides in a reversal conditioning experiment. Every single fly shows strong avoidance and a positive memory score. The new conditioning apparatus has several advantages: (1) Statistically significant learning scores can be obtained for individual flies. (2) Learning scores are obtained fully automatically without interference of the experimenter. (3) The procedure is fast, robust and requires little handling. Therefore the apparatus is suitable for largescale mutant screening. (4) Animals are not attached to a hook and thus can easily be used for breeding.

Key words

Place learning Reversal learning Mutant analysis Mutant screen 


dnc dunce



performance Index


rutabaga gene


standard error of mean


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. Wustmann
    • 1
  • K. Rein
    • 1
  • R. Wolf
    • 1
  • M. Heisenberg
    • 1
  1. 1.Theodor-Boveri-Institut für Biowissenschaften, Lehrstuhl für GenetikUniversität WürzburgWürzburgGermany

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