Modulation of early olfactory processing by an octopaminergic reinforcement pathway in the honeybee

Tahira Farooqui, Kellie Robinson, Harald Vaessin, Brian H. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

247 Scopus citations


Processing of olfactory information in the antennal lobes of insects and olfactory bulbs of vertebrates is modulated by centrifugal inputs that represent reinforcing events. Octopamine release by one such pathway in the honeybee antennal lobe modulates olfactory processing in relation to nectar (sucrose) reinforcement. To test more specifically what role octopamine plays in the antennal lobe, we used two treatments to disrupt an octopamine receptor from Apis mellifera brain (AmOAR) function: (1) an OAR antagonist, mianserin, was used to block receptor function, and (2) AmOAR double-stranded RNA was used to silence receptor expression. Both treatments inhibited olfactory acquisition and recall, but they did not disrupt odor discrimination. These results suggest that octopamine mediates consolidation of a component of olfactory memory at this early processing stage in the antennal lobe. Furthermore, after consolidation, octopamine release becomes essential for recall, which suggests that the modulatory circuits become incorporated as essential components of neural representations that activate odor memory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5370-5380
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 15 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • AmOAR
  • Antennal lobe
  • Apis mellifera
  • Octopamine neurotransmission
  • Olfactory memory consolidation
  • Proboscis extension reflex
  • RNAi
  • VUMmx1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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