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Neural basis of habituation

Researchers studying behavioral habituation — a form of learning where repeated exposure to a stimulus results in decreased behavioral response — now have evidence that it arises from increase in strength of nerve impulses of inhibitory transmission in the nervous system1.

Working on the fruitfly Drosophila, they found that a 30 minute exposure either to 15% CO2 or 5% ethyl butyrate (EB) decreased its olfactory avoidance response to both.

The researchers studied long term and short term habituation and tracked the cellular changes. They concluded that along with certain cellular changes, habituation arose from increase in strength of nerve impulses of inhibitory synapses in the antennal lobe.

They suggest that similar neural circuit mechanisms may operate in other species and sensory systems.

The authors of this work are from: National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore and Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, India; Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland; University of Arizona, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta and University of California at San Diego, USA and University of Tokyo, Japan.



  1. Das, S. et al. Plasticity of local GABAergic interneurons drives olfactory habituation. P. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. (2011) doi: 10.1073/pnas.1106411108

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