Flies Are Smarter Than You Think
The annoying fruit flies that fly around the bananas in the kitchen don’t seem to have much in common with mammals. But researchers are discovering more and more in common with these little fruit-loving insects that are an example in science.
Researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UC San Diego) Kavli Brain and Mind Institute (KIBM) have discovered in their new study that fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) display more advanced cognitive abilities than previously thought. Using a specially designed immersive virtual reality environment, performing neurogenetic adjustments and monitoring brain activity in vivo in real time, scientists show striking links between the cognitive abilities of flies and mammals, in their study published two days ago in Nature.
Along with the comprehensive approach they used in their work, the researchers discovered that fruit flies have abilities such as working memory and mindfulness. These cognitive abilities have so far only been tested in mammals. The researchers were able to track the formation, dissipation, and eventual disappearance of a memory trace in the flies’ tiny brains.
Senior author Ralph Greenspan, assistant director at KIBM and UC San Diego’s Department of Biological Sciences, explains: “This research, despite the lack of obvious anatomical resemblance, is a study of our everyday cognitive functioning; It addresses what we pay attention to and how we do it. “Since all brains evolved from a common ancestor, we can draw parallels between the brain regions of flies and mammals based on molecular features and the way we store our memories.”
Fruit fly. Photo: Sanjay Acharya Photo: https://popsci.com.tr/