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Journal Articles Cell Reports Year : 2023

Numerical discrimination in Drosophila melanogaster

Abstract

Sensitivity to numbers is a crucial cognitive ability. The lack of experimental models amenable to systematic genetic and neural manipulation has precluded discovering neural circuits required for numerical cognition. Here, we demonstrate that Drosophila flies spontaneously prefer sets containing larger numbers of objects. This preference is determined by the ratio between the two numerical quantities tested, a characteristic signature of numerical cognition across species. Individual flies maintained their numerical choice over consecutive days. Using a numerical visual conditioning paradigm, we found that flies are capable of associating sucrose with numerical quantities and can be trained to reverse their spontaneous preference for large quantities. Finally, we show that silencing lobula columnar neurons (LC11) reduces the preference for more objects, thus identifying a neuronal substrate for numerical cognition in invertebrates. This discovery paves the way for the systematic analysis of the behavioral and neural mechanisms underlying the evolutionary conserved sensitivity to numerosity.
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Dates and versions

hal-04257815 , version 1 (25-10-2023)

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Mercedes Bengochea, Jacobo D Sitt, Véronique Izard, Thomas Preat, Laurent Cohen, et al.. Numerical discrimination in Drosophila melanogaster. Cell Reports, 2023, 42 (7), pp.112772. ⟨10.1016/j.celrep.2023.112772⟩. ⟨hal-04257815⟩
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