Experiments reported in this paper investigate the properties of a change in the responsiveness of adult Drosophila melanogaster induced by exposure to different rearing media. This effect has previously been described as habituation or associative learning. Exposure to food medium containing 0.08% menthol induced a positive response to menthol odour in a T-maze olfactometer. A brief (one hour) exposure to mentholic food just before testing was sufficient to induce a change in responsiveness. The effect did not persist through periods of more than an hour of separation from mentholic medium. Effects induced by exposure to a single compound were not specific to that compound alone. Menthol-reared flies (MRFs) differed from plain reared flies (PRFs) in their responsiveness to the odours of benzaldehyde and ethyl acetate, as well as menthol, and exposure to ethyl acetate induced a change in response to menthol odour. That there was an induced positive response to menthol in MRFs suggests that conventional habituation is insufficient to explain the induced change in responsiveness, but the generalised nature of this behavioural induction in MRFs is hard to explain in terms of associative learning. The mechanism underlying the induction remains elusive.
- Associative learning
- T-maze olfactometer