Contact: Morgan Kelly
Caption: Princeton University researchers have discovered that the pitch and tempo of the male fruit fly's mating song is based on environmental cues rather than a stereotyped pattern. These findings could be substantial for understanding rapid decision-making in more advanced beings such as humans. The researchers have provided a possible tool for studying the neural pathways behind how an organism engaged in a task adjusts its behavior to sudden changes, be it a leopard chasing a zigzagging gazelle, or a commuter navigating stop-and-go traffic. To capture the male fruit fly's mating song, the researchers constructed an octagonal chamber covered in copper mesh and fitted with nine high-fidelity microphones (above). The researchers then placed a sexually mature male and female in the chamber and recorded more than 100,000 song bouts.
Credit: Photo courtesy of Philip Coen, Princeton Neuroscience Institute
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