A New Generation of Maze for a Drosophila Olfactory Memory Assay

Alyssa Risner, Shawn Scialabba, Phillip Strickland, Alvina Emran


An olfactory memory assay tests the ability of Drosophila to be trained with and recall a conditioned stimulus in the form of an electrical shock paired with an odor. Traditionally, the memory experiments are performed in a T-maze consisting of a training chamber that provides an electrical shock and an elevator to transport the flies to a choice point where two odors are introduced. Learning and memory are measured by the flies’ aversion to the conditioned stimulus. However, memory assay set-ups vary greatly since the T-maze is not commercially available, and the associated elevator mechanism tends to kill many flies. These problems potentially affect the measurable behavior and reduce the number of test subjects. To address these drawbacks, a new maze prototype was designed and fabricated. Consisting of multiple parts (unlike the traditional T-maze), this new maze can be easily replicated by other users using a 3-D printer at a relatively low cost. The innovative design includes a detached training chamber (with a flexible copper circuit) and allows for ease of assembly and cleaning. Instead of an elevator mechanism, the new design employs compressed air to help transfer the flies from the training chamber to the choice point while minimizing fly casualties. Preliminary trials of this prototype with Drosophila were conducted, which suggest an improved way for administering olfactory memory assays.


Drosophila, olfactory memory, Alzheimer's disease

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