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The mushroom bodies of Drosophila contain circuitry compatible with race models of perceptual choice. When flies discriminate odor intensity differences, opponent pools of αβ core Kenyon cells (on and off αβc KCs) accumulate evidence for increases or decreases in odor concentration. These sensory neurons and "antineurons" connect to a layer of mushroom body output neurons (MBONs) which bias behavioral intent in opposite ways. All-to-all connectivity between the competing integrators and their MBON partners allows for correct and erroneous decisions; dopaminergic reinforcement sets choice probabilities via reciprocal changes to the efficacies of on and off KC synapses; and pooled inhibition between αβc KCs can establish equivalence with the drift-diffusion formalism known to describe behavioral performance. The response competition network gives tangible form to many features envisioned in theoretical models of mammalian decision making, but it differs from these models in one respect: the principal variables-the fill levels of the integrators and the strength of inhibition between them-are represented by graded potentials rather than spikes. In pursuit of similar computational goals, a small brain may thus prioritize the large information capacity of analog signals over the robustness and temporal processing span of pulsatile codes.

Original publication




Journal article


Curr Biol

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