Do Flies Have Cognition?

Doctor Josh Dubnau discusses some remarkably sophisticated behaviors in fruit flies that suggest that they do have cognition.

The question of whether flies have cognition depends a lot on what we mean by cognition. Fruit flies are remarkably sophisticated animals in the sense that they can court members of the opposite sex. They are able to find animals that are of the same species as they are, not a different fruit fly species but the same one, drosophila melanogaster courts drosophila melanogaster. Fruit flies are able to find appropriate food sources; they defend territory from other fruit flies. They’ll fight over access to a place to lay eggs, they are able to figure out what time of day is the most appropriate time to sleep and what is the most appropriate time to forage for food, and they can learn from their past experiences about what stimuli were noxious, or what stimuli (what smells, what sounds or what colors) were associated with something that tasted bad or something that was pleasing. Whether or not that was cognition, I’ll leave that to the philosophers.

cognition, drosophila, melangoster fruit, fly, flies, josh, dubnau, cshl

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1720. Training Flies

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1721. 3D Gene Expression

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1437. The Shibire Experiment

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1439. Biochemicals - Excitation and Inhibition

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16264. Gallery 10: Male Fruit Fly

Early drawing of a male fruit fly.

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1719. Fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster)

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16269. Gallery 10: Columbia University Fly Room, around 1920

The Fly Room at Columbia University, around 1920.

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1435. Mutant Screens

Doctor Josh Dubnau explains that mutant screens generate a large panel of mutant animals that average a mutation in one gene. Each animal is then tested for a particular characteristic.

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1436. Disentangling Encoding and Retrieval

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