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The fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster has emerged as a popular model to investigate fundamental principles of neural circuit operation. The sophisticated genetics and small brain permit a cellular resolution understanding of innate and learned behavioural processes. Relatively recent genetic and technical advances provide the means to specifically and reproducibly manipulate the function of many fly neurons with temporal resolution. The same cellular precision can also be exploited to express genetically encoded reporters of neural activity and cell-signalling pathways. Combining these approaches in living behaving animals has great potential to generate a holistic view of behavioural control that transcends the usual molecular, cellular and systems boundaries. In this review, we discuss these approaches with particular emphasis on the pioneering studies and those involving learning and memory.

Original publication




Journal article


Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci

Publication Date





Drosophila, behaviour, cellular resolution, optogenetics, reporters, thermogenetics, Animals, Animals, Genetically Modified, Behavior, Animal, Drosophila melanogaster, Gene Expression, Genes, Insect, Hot Temperature, Learning, Light, Memory, Models, Animal, Models, Neurological, Neural Pathways, Neurons, Optogenetics