Drosophila as a Model Organism for the Study of Neuropsychiatric Disorders

  • Cahir J. O’KaneEmail author
Part of the Current Topics in Behavioral Neurosciences book series (CTBN, volume 7)


The fruitfly Drosophila offers a model system in which powerful genetic tools can be applied to understanding the neurobiological bases of a range of complex behaviors. The Drosophila and human lineages diverged several hundred million years ago, and despite their obvious differences, flies and humans share many fundamental cellular and neurobiological processes. The similarities include fundamental mechanisms of neuronal signaling, a conserved underlying brain architecture and the main classes of neurotransmitter system. Drosophila also have a sophisticated behavioral repertoire that includes extensive abilities to adapt to experience and other circumstances, and is therefore susceptible to the same kinds of insults that can cause neuropsychiatric disorders in humans. Given the different physiologies, lifestyles, and cognitive abilities of flies and humans, many higher order behavioral features of the human disorders cannot be modeled readily in flies. However, an increasing understanding of the genetics of human neuropsychiatric disorders is suggesting parallels with underlying neurobiological mechanisms in flies, thus providing important insights into the possible mechanisms of these poorly understood disorders.


Addiction Aggression Autism Courtship Dopamine Drosophila Learning Memory Neuropeptides Schizophrenia Serotonin Sleep 



Anesthesia-resistant memory


Blood–brain barrier


Cyclic AMP


Dopamine transporter


Gamma-aminobutyric acid


Lateral neurons


Neuromuscular junction


Neuropeptide F


Neuropeptide Y


Pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating protein


cAMP-dependent protein kinase


Serotonin transporter


Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor


Vesicular monoamine transporter


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeneticsUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK

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