We treat fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) with methylphenidate (MPH, ‘Ritalin’) and test for the behavioral effects of the drug. In a collaboration with Daniela Dieterich from the Leibniz Institut for Neurobiology in Magdeburg we also investigate the change in protein expression after the drug treatment.
One of the first results we found was that a known hyperactivity of radish mutant flies decreased after MPH treatment. We tested the flies in the Drosophila flight simulator, where the flies could chose flight directions with respect to four identical stripes on the inside of the cylindrical arena inside which the flies were tethered. The figure below depicts the power spectrum of the behavioral data from the treated and untreated flies:
CS: wild type Canton S, rsh – radish mutant flies.
Treating the mutant flies with MPH strongly reduces their 2-3Hz peak, constituting an effective rescue of the oscillatory hyperactivity. In addition, MPH abolishes the 1Hz peak which is present in both mutant and wildtype flies.