Experience-expectant plasticity in the mushroom bodies of the honeybee

Susan E. Fahrbach, Darrell Moore, Elizabeth A. Capaldi, Sarah M. Farris, Gene E. Robinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Worker honeybees (Apis mellifera) were reared in social isolation in complete darkness to assess the effects of experience on growth of the neuropil of the mushroom bodies (MBs) during adult life. Comparison of the volume of the MBs of 1-day-old and 7-day-old bees showed that a significant increase in volume in the MB neuropil occurred during the first week of life in bees reared under these highly deprived conditions. All regions of the MB neuropil experienced a significant increase in volume with the exception of the basal ring. Measurement of titers of juvenile hormone (JH) in a subset of bees indicated that, as in previous studies, these rearing conditions induced in some bees the endocrine state of high JH associated with foraging, but there was no correlation between JH titer and volume of MB neuropil. Treatment of another subset of dark-reared bees with the JH analog, methoprene, also had no effect of the growth of the MB neuropil. These results demonstrate that there is a phase of MB neuropil growth early in the adult life of bees that occurs independent of light or any form of social interaction. Together with previous findings showing that an increase in MB neuropil volume begins around the time that orientation flights occur and then continues throughout the phase of life devoted to foraging, these results suggest that growth of the MB neuropil in adult bees may have both experience-expectant and experience-dependent components.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)115-123
Number of pages9
JournalLearning and Memory
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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