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Distributed plasticity in ant visual pathways following colour learning.


ABSTRACT: Colour processing at early stages of visual pathways is a topic of intensive study both in vertebrate and invertebrate species. However, it is still unclear how colour learning and memory formation affects an insect brain in the peripheral processing stages and high-order integration centres, and whether associative colour experiences are reflected in plasticity of underlying neuronal circuits. To address this issue, we used Camponotus blandus ants as their proven colour learning and memory capabilities, precisely controllable age and experience, and already known central visual pathways offer unique access to analyse plasticity in neuronal circuits for colour vision in a miniature brain. The potential involvement of distinct neuropils-optic lobes (OLs), mushroom body (MB) input (collar) and output (vertical lobe), anterior optic tubercle (AOTU) and central complex (CX)-in associative colour experiences was assessed by quantification of volumetric and synaptic changes (MB collar) directly after colour conditioning and, 3 days later, after the establishment of long-term memory (LTM). To account for potential effects of non-associative light exposure, we compared neuronal changes in the brain of colour-naive foragers with those of foragers that had been exposed to light in a non-associative way. The results clearly show that the OLs, AOTU, and CX respond with plastic changes after colour learning and LTM formation. This suggests a complex neuronal network for colour learning and memory formation involving multiple brain levels. Such a colour-processing network probably represents an efficient design promoting fast and accurate behavioural decisions during orientation and navigation.

SUBMITTER: Yilmaz A 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC6408593 | BioStudies | 2019-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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