PerspectiveNeuroscience

Ode to the Mushroom Bodies

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Science  10 Feb 2012:
Vol. 335, Issue 6069, pp. 664-665
DOI: 10.1126/science.1218171

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Summary

Immediately after a behavioral experience, our memories are rich and vibrant but fragile. Over time, memory of an event or experience begins to fade, but we typically remember the important details because memories become consolidated into a form that is resistant to the passage of time and disruption. Invertebrate animal models, including the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, have been used to elucidate mechanisms of consolidation that rely on biochemical signaling within a neuron (1, 2). By contrast, most investigations of communication between brain regions for systems-level consolidation have focused on vertebrate animals, based on the assumption that larger, more complex brains are capable of more elaborate processing of memory over time (3, 4). However, several recent studies have provoked a systems view of fruit fly memory (57), and on page 678 of this issue, Chen et al. (8) provide an even stronger push in that direction.