New study in moths shows insects not entirely ruled by instinct

COLUMBUS, Ohio By examining the brain activity of moths, researchers have found that the behavior of these insects isn't ruled entirely by instinct. Rather, they can learn which odors mean food.

The findings are more than academic: The researchers hope to develop methods for using trained moths to detect odors of interest for defense industry and law enforcement such as odors given off by biological and chemical weapons.

Animal behaviorists have historically argued that most insects have a programmed response to a variety of situations, such as knowing which odors signal the presence of food and mates.

But scientists are discovering that animals don't always instinctively know what to do. In these cases, they have to learn, said Kevin Daly, the study's lead author and a research scientist in entomology at Ohio State University.

He and his colleagues used tiny electrodes implanted in the heads of sphinx moths to continuously monitor the insect's neuronal activity and feeding behavior before, during and after training the animal that one odor meant food sugar water was on the way and another odor did not.

"We saw a dramatic restructuring of the neural networks that convert scent into a code that the rest of the brain can understand," Daly said. "The changes in this coding suggest that the moths learned to differentiate between an odor that meant food and an odor that didn't."

Understanding how moths detect and discriminate between scents could have wide-reaching applications. In related work, Daly and his colleagues are training moths and bees to detect odors from manufactured explosives.

"In principle, if we can understand how insects learn and distinguish between odors, we could 'train' these animals to recognize any detectable odor of interest," he said.

The findings currently appear online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The electrodes placed in the moths'

Contact: Kevin Daly
Ohio State University

Page: 1 2 3

Related biology news :

1. Student science contest participation influences study, career choices, alumni say
2. New study shows hope for treating inhalant abuse
3. International study findings link acne-like rash to effectiveness of new targeted cancer treatment
4. Cigarette smoke causes breaks in DNA and defects to a cells chromosomes, Pitt study finds
5. New study indicates arsenic could be suitable as first-line treatment in type of leukaemia
6. Phase II trials of second-generation antisense cancer drug planned following successful early study
7. Preclinical safety study shows adipose-derived stem cells improve heart function after heart attack
8. Indiana University, EPA to study airborne PCBs
9. K-State, other universities to study how climate affects plant evolution
10. USC study links historical increases in life span to lower childhood exposure to infection
11. Washington University in St. Louis leads group studying aging process

Post Your Comments:

(Date:10/29/2015)... ARBOR, Mich. , Oct. 29, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... Eurofins Genomics for U.S. distribution of its DNA ... DNA-seq kit and Rubicon,s new ThruPLEX Plasma-seq kit. ... to enable the preparation of NGS libraries for ... plasma for diagnostic and prognostic applications in cancer ...
(Date:10/27/2015)... YORK , Oct. 27, 2015 In ... major issues of concern for various industry verticals such ... is due to the growing demand for secure & ... in various ,sectors, such as hacking of bank accounts, ... for electronic equipment such as PC,s, laptops, and smartphones ...
(Date:10/26/2015)... Calif. and LAS VEGAS ... Nok Nok Labs , an innovator in modern authentication ... , today announced the launch of its latest version ... unified platform enabling organizations to use standards-based authentication that ... Nok Nok S3 Authentication Suite is ideal for organizations ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)...  Clintrax Global, Inc., a worldwide provider of clinical research services ... that the company has set a new quarterly earnings record in ... growth posted for Q3 of 2014 to Q3 of 2015.   ... , with the establishment of an Asia-Pacific ... United Kingdom and Mexico , ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... , ... This fall, global software solutions leader SAP and AdVenture Capital brought ... pitch their BIG ideas to improve health and wellness in their schools. , Now, ... the title of SAP's Teen Innovator, an all-expenses paid trip to Super Bowl 50, ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... November 24, 2015 SHPG ) announced today ... the Piper Jaffray 27 th Annual Healthcare Conference in ... 2015, at 8:30 a.m. EST (1:30 p.m. GMT). --> ... Officer, will participate in the Piper Jaffray 27 th Annual ... on Tuesday, December 1, 2015, at 8:30 a.m. EST (1:30 p.m. ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... TEL AVIV, Israel , Nov. 24, 2015  Tikcro Technologies Ltd. ... be held on December 29, 2015 at 11:00 a.m. Israel ... & Co., Electra Tower, 98 Yigal Allon Street, 36 th Floor, ... , election of Eric Paneth and Izhak Tamir ... and Rami Skaliter as external directors; , approval of an ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
Cached News: