• Male fruit flies. {credit: Mala Murthy, assistant professor of molecular biology and the Princeton Neuroscience Institute.}

    Princeton University researchers have discovered that the pitch and tempo of the male fruit fly's mating song is based on environmental cues rather than a stereotyped pattern. These findings could be substantial for understanding rapid decision-making in more advanced beings such as humans. The researchers have provided a possible tool for studying the neural pathways behind how an organism engaged in a task adjusts its behavior to sudden changes, be it a leopard chasing a zigzagging gazelle, or a commuter navigating stop-and-go traffic.

  • What singing fruit flies can tell us about quick decisions

    You wouldn't hear the mating song of the male fruit fly as you reached for the infested bananas in your kitchen. Yet, the neural activity behind the insect's amorous call could help scientists understand how you made the quick decision to pull your hand back from the tiny swarm.

    Male fruit flies base the pitch and tempo of their mating song on the movement and behavior of their desired female, Princeton University researchers have discovered. In the animal kingdom, lusty warblers such as birds typically have a mating song with a stereotyped pattern. A fruit fly's song, however, is an unordered series of loud purrs and soft drones made by wing vibrations, the researchers reported in the journal Nature. A male adjusts his song in reaction to his specific environment, which in this case is the distance and speed of a female — the faster and farther away she's moving, the louder he "sings." Read More.

    Fruit flies.

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