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Hanna Zwaka


Neural correlates of decision making in honey bees in a self controlled virtual environment

The focus of my work is the search for neural correlates of decision making in honeybees when they learn to navigate in a virtual environment.

Extracellular recordings are performed from multiple mushroom body extrinsic neurons during extended periods of time (up to several days) in behaving animals allowing to monitor response properties of neurons during decision making.

The mushroom body, a higher- order integration centre for many sensory and evaluating inputs, is known to be involved in the consolidation of memory and retrieving memory. Mushroom body extrinsic neurons are expected to recode the sensory input according to its value, and thus we expect that neural read-out of the mushroom body may be involved in decision making between learned options.

I will focus on visual tasks as monitored in a virtual environment which allows an animal stationary walking on a ball floating on air to control the objects in the environment both with respect to rotation and translation. Depending on the particular organization of the virtual environment the animal will either solve simple learned tasks or more complex, navigation-like tasks.

The aim of this study is to determine which neural properties of the extracellular recorded mushroom body extrinsic neurons are correlated with the behavioral outcome within the virtual environment.

This work is funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft Me 365/41-1.