Spatial navigation relies on both internal brain representation of space and sensory inputs, but how the two are coherently integrated as flexible maps in dedicated neuronal circuits is unknown for any species. Using various neuronal recording techniques in tethered Drosophila flies, teams lead independently by Rachel Wilson and Vivek Jayaraman now reveal how inhibitory inputs from visually responsive ‘ring neurons’ onto ‘head direction’, or ‘compass’ neurons in the central complex are refined, as flies experience new visual scenery. This is the first instance of synaptic plasticity described outside the mushroom body in the fly brain, and the first experimental mechanism explaining how an animal re-acquires its bearings in novel surroundings.
Recent Hot Topics
Sign up for Nature Research e-alerts to get the lastest research in your inbox every week.