Mapping brain function to brain structure is a fundamental task for neuroscience. For such an endeavour, the Drosophila larva is simple enough to be tractable, yet complex enough to be interesting. It features about 10,000 neurons and is capable of various taxes, kineses and Pavlovian conditioning. All its neurons are currently being mapped into a light-microscopical atlas, and Gal4 strains are being generated to experimentally access neurons one at a time. In addition, an electron microscopic reconstruction of its nervous system seems within reach. Notably, this electron microscope-based connectome is being drafted for a stage 1 larva - because stage 1 larvae are much smaller than stage 3 larvae. However, most behaviour analyses have been performed for stage 3 larvae because their larger size makes them easier to handle and observe. It is therefore warranted to either redo the electron microscopic reconstruction for a stage 3 larva or to survey the behavioural faculties of stage 1 larvae. We provide the latter. In a community-based approach we called the Ol1mpiad, we probed stage 1 Drosophila larvae for free locomotion, feeding, responsiveness to substrate vibration, gentle and nociceptive touch, burrowing, olfactory preference and thermotaxis, light avoidance, gustatory choice of various tastants plus odour-taste associative learning, as well as light/dark-electric shock associative learning. Quantitatively, stage 1 larvae show lower scores in most tasks, arguably because of their smaller size and lower speed. Qualitatively, however, stage 1 larvae perform strikingly similar to stage 3 larvae in almost all cases. These results bolster confidence in mapping brain structure and behaviour across developmental stages.
- Learning and memory
- Sensory processing