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Neural Representations of Courtship Song in the Drosophila Brain

Author(s): Tootoonian, S; Coen, P; Kawai, R; Murthy, Mala

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Abstract: Acoustic communication in drosophilid flies is based on the production and perception of courtship songs, which facilitate mating. Despite decades of research on courtship songs and behavior in Drosophila, central auditory responses have remained uncharacterized. In this study, we report on intracellular recordings from central neurons that innervate the Drosophila antennal mechanosensory and motor center (AMMC), the first relay for auditory information in the fly brain. These neurons produce graded-potential (nonspiking) responses to sound; we compare recordings from AMMC neurons to extracellular recordings of the receptor neuron population [Johnston’s organ neurons (JONs)]. We discover that, while steady-state response profiles for tonal and broadband stimuli are significantly transformed betweenthe JON population inthe antenna and AMMC neurons inthe brain,transient responsesto pulses present in natural stimuli (courtship song) are not. For pulse stimuli in particular, AMMC neurons simply low-pass filter the receptor population response, thus preserving low-frequency temporal features (such as the spacing of song pulses) for analysis by postsynaptic neurons. We also compare responses in two closely related Drosophila species, Drosophila melanogaster and Drosophila simulans, and find that pulse song responses are largely similar, despite differences in the spectral content of their songs. Our recordings inform how downstream circuits may read out behaviorally relevant information from central neurons in the AMMC.
Publication Date: 18-Jan-2012
Electronic Publication Date: 18-Jan-2012
Citation: Tootoonian, S, Coen, P, Kawai, R, Murthy, M. (2012). Neural Representations of Courtship Song in the Drosophila Brain. Journal of Neuroscience, 32 (3), 787 - 798. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5104-11.2012
DOI: doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5104-11.2012
ISSN: 0270-6474
EISSN: 1529-2401
Pages: 787 - 798
Type of Material: Journal Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: Journal of Neuroscience
Version: Final published version. This is an open access article.

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