dFoxP as a key component of the operant self-learning mechanism

The Forkhead Box P2 (FoxP2) is a gene known for its importance in the developing of speech and language in humans, and, more widely, for modulating the neural circuits involved in vocal learning in vertebrates. By studying the Drosophila FoxP orthologue, dFoxP, it has been possible to extend this important role to another form of learning, namely the operant self-learning or “learning-by-doing”, in which the subject is able to learn from the outcomes of its own behaviour. It has been shown (Mendoza et al., 2014) that dFoxP mutants are impaired in this form of learning, thus providing an important component of the molecular process underlying this phenomenon. In order to elucidate such a complex mechanism is important to reach a detailed and comprehensive knowledge of this gene starting from the molecular level. The aim of this project is thus primarily to elucidate where in the Drosophila nervous system dFoxP activity is required for operant self-learning, and nonetheless, its specific role by manipulatig it in a spatiotemporally controlled manner.

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