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Flies deliberate over difficult decisions; mutants deliberate longer

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posted on May, 23 2014 @ 04:31 AM

"Easy decisions, based on clear evidence, will be fast; difficult decisions, based on uncertain evidence, will be slow." This spectacular insight was published this week not in the Journal of Duh, but in the illustrious Science.

Flies were trained to avoid a specific concentration of 4-methylcyclohexanol, which to us has a menthol-like scent. They were then herded into narrow chambers with varying concentrations of the compound at the entrance, and a distasteful concentration farther inside.

The researchers measured how quickly the flies deliberated in the "decision zone" before taking off. When the scent was diffuse, the decision was easy because the odors were dissimilar; the flies went straight through the decision zone to its border with the smell they didn't like. Once they hit that border, they did a hairpin turn and flew right out.

But when the odors were not as distinct from one another, the decision was harder. The flies zigged and zagged back and forth over the border between the two concentrations before eventually leaving—it took them a longer time to accumulate the information on which to base their decision.


Oh cool we are not better than flies, but not all flies are the same, their tendency to wait and think before taking an action depends on a mutation the researchers found after testing different flies with 40 distinct genes variation.

The scientists discovered that fruit flies with mutations in a gene called FoxP took longer than normal flies to make decisions when odours were difficult to distinguish – they became indecisive.

The researchers tracked down the activity of the FoxP gene to a small cluster of around 200 neurons out of the 200,000 neurons in the brain of a fruit fly. This implicates these neurons in the evidence-accumulation process the flies use before committing to a decision.

This has implications in our lives too, flies only have a FoxP gene, humans have four.

Human FoxP1 and FoxP2 have previously been associated with language and cognitive development. The genes have also been linked to the ability to learn fine movement sequences, such as playing the piano.

'We don't know why this gene pops up in such diverse mental processes as language, decision-making and motor learning,' says Professor Miesenböck. However, he speculates: 'One feature common to all of these processes is that they unfold over time. FoxP may be important for wiring the capacity to produce and process temporal sequences in the brain.'

These genes has been linked to developmental disorders in humans, autoimmune disease and some cancerous tumors, so does thinking more will get you killed?
be happy while you think on it

posted on May, 23 2014 @ 05:58 AM
Oh great, So now the pesky buzzy things can think!!!

How long before they're armed with Fly Human spray?

posted on May, 23 2014 @ 06:43 AM
a reply to: VoidHawk

Their greatest mind must be working on an UV lamp that attract humans and zap them

posted on May, 23 2014 @ 09:58 AM
Isn't this the gene that they mentioned on ancient aliens?

Since flies have been around much, much earlier than humans IMO this kind of discredits his theory that aliens made these genes.

posted on May, 23 2014 @ 03:46 PM
a reply to: Indigent

Intelligence is (in the very least) an inherent property of life. That includes plants and microbes, and it can be verified across 10 orders of magnitude- from viruses up to civilizations.
Brains not required.

posted on May, 24 2014 @ 01:40 AM

originally posted by: Attentionwandered
Isn't this the gene that they mentioned on ancient aliens?

Since flies have been around much, much earlier than humans IMO this kind of discredits his theory that aliens made these genes.

It's also used for the Starchild skull, and basically lied about.

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