Experience-Dependent Plasticity in Insects

Jean-Marc Devaud

Martin Giurfa

05 61 55 67 62

05 61 55 67 33

Team members

  Research engineer
  • Gabriela De Brito Sanchez
  • Isabelle Massou
  • Gregory Lafon
  • Jean-Marc Devaud
  • Martin Giurfa
  Researcher  Associate professor
  • Guillaume Isabel
  Technical staff
  • Alexandre Durand
  Postdoctoral fellow
  • Marco Paoli
  • Catherine Tait
  • Luigi Baciadonna
  PhD student
  • Yuan Lai
  • Ines Noureddine
  • Mathieu Kunetz
  • Elena Kerjean
  • Catherine Macri
  • Zhaonan Zhang
  Master student
  • Melodie Delobelle


The objective of our team is the integrative study of experience-dependent plasticity in insects, with a particular focus on cognitive functions, such as visual and olfactory learning and memory. Three model species (honeybee, bumblebee, Drosophila), for which detailed descriptions of brain anatomy and genome are now available, are used to explore behavioral plasticity in ecologically relevant tasks and to track down their genetic, molecular and neural mechanisms bases. The comparative analysis between species exhibiting various levels of social complexities provides a unique opportunity to consider experience-dependent plasticity in a social context.

Our multidisciplinary approach is poised at the interface between experimental psychology, neurobiology, molecular biology, behavioral genetics and cognitive ecology. We use state-of the-art techniques spanning from behavioral observations of free-flying bees foraging on computer-controlled flowers, to the conditioning of harnessed individuals presented with tightly controlled stimuli, the identification of neural circuits involved in memory formation using transgenes, and the detailed tracking of neurotransmission processes in targeted brain structures.



BEE-MATURATION: Individual experience and plasticity

MOLECULTURE: Multiscale study of social learning and memory in Drosophila melanogaster: from genes to animal culture

APITASTE: Taste Perception and Modulation in a Miniature Brain

BEE NUMBER: The Biological Bases of Bee Numerosity

ERC Advanced Grant COGNIBRAINS: Cognition in an Insect Brain


  • Bestea L, Paoli M, Ronsin B, Arrufat P, Velarde R, Carcaud J, Sandoz JC, Giurfa M, de Brito Sanchez MG .
    The short neuropeptide F regulates appetitive but not aversive responsiveness in a social insect
    iScience 25: 103619
    2022 Jan
  • Giurfa M, Luyat M.
    Gap affordance judgments in bumblebees: Same as humans?
    Learning & Behavior
    2021 Nov DOI: 10.3758/s13420-021-00486-1
  • Josens R, Giacometti A, Giurfa M (2021) .
    Inhibition of serotonergic signaling induces higher consumption of both sucrose solution and toxic baits in carpenter ants
    Scientific Reports 11, 19176.
    2021 Nov DOI: 10.1038/s41598-021-98030-8
  • Baracchi D, Giurfa M, d’Ettorre P (2021) .
    Formic acid modulates latency and accuracy of nestmate recognition in carpenter ants
    Journal of Experimental Biology 224(20): jeb242784
    2021 Nov DOI: 10.1242/jeb.242784
  • Finke V, Baracchi D, Giurfa M, Scheiner R, Avarguès-Weber A.
    Evidence of cognitive specialization in an insect: proficiency is maintained across elemental and higher-order visual learning but not between sensory modalities in honey bees
    Journal of Experimental Biology jeb.242470
    2021 Nov DOI: 10.1242/jeb.242470

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