Using an insect mushroom body circuit to encode route memory in complex natural environments

Ardin, Paul and Peng, Fei and Mangan, Michael and Lagogiannis, Konstantinos and Webb, Barbara (2016) Using an insect mushroom body circuit to encode route memory in complex natural environments. PLoS Computational Biology, 12 (2). e1004683. ISSN 1553-734X

Full content URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1004683

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Abstract

Ants, like many other animals, use visual memory to follow extended routes through complex
environments, but it is unknown how their small brains implement this capability. The
mushroom body neuropils have been identified as a crucial memory circuit in the insect
brain, but their function has mostly been explored for simple olfactory association tasks. We
show that a spiking neural model of this circuit originally developed to describe fruitfly (Drosophila
melanogaster) olfactory association, can also account for the ability of desert ants
(Cataglyphis velox) to rapidly learn visual routes through complex natural environments. We
further demonstrate that abstracting the key computational principles of this circuit, which
include one-shot learning of sparse codes, enables the theoretical storage capacity of the
ant mushroom body to be estimated at hundreds of independent images.

Keywords:Computational biology, JCOpen
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C100 Biology
Divisions:College of Science > School of Computer Science
ID Code:23571
Deposited On:30 Jul 2016 20:45

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