Evolution and Learning - Research Article from Learning & Memory

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Genetic Variation in Learning

Some of the clearest evidence for genetic variation in learning comes from studies of learning mutations in the fruit fly Drosophila (Waddell and Quinn, 2001). Fruit flies are good learners, and can readily learn to avoid an odor that has been associated with electric shock. Mutation of single genes in the Drosophila genome can be induced with chemicals, and some of these mutations have dramatic effects on learning. Mutations in genes with whimsical names like rutabaga and dunce make fruit flies unable to learn an association between odor and shock, or cause them to quickly forget what they have learned. These particular genes code for components of the intracellular signaling system that transforms neural activity into more long-lasting changes in neurons that record experience. The rutabaga and dunce genes code for enzymes that increase and decrease, respectively, the intracellular concentration of cAMP (cyclic AMP...

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This section contains 2,436 words
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Evolution and Learning from Learning & Memory. Copyright © 2001-2006 by Macmillan Reference USA, an imprint of the Gale Group. All rights reserved.
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