Although the importance of the Drosophila mushroom body in olfactory learning and memory has been stressed, virtually nothing is known about the brain regions to which it is connected. Using Golgi and GAL4–UAS techniques, we performed the first systematic attempt to reveal the anatomy of its extrinsic neurons. A novel presynaptic reporter construct, UAS-neuronal synaptobrevin–green fluorescent protein (n-syb–GFP), was used to reveal the direction of information in the GAL4-labeled neurons. Our results showed that the main target of the output neurons from the mushroom body lobes is the anterior part of the inferior medial, superior medial, and superior lateral protocerebrum. The lobes also receive afferents from these neuropils. The lack of major output projections directly to the deutocerebrum’s premotor pathways discourages the view that the role of the mushroom body may be that of an immediate modifier of behavior. Our data, as well as a critical evaluation of the literature, suggest that the mushroom body may not by itself be a “center” for learning and memory, but that it can equally be considered as a preprocessor of olfactory signals en route to “higher” protocerebral regions.
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