We investigated protocerebral processing of behaviorally relevant signals in the turnip moth, Agrotis segetum. Single neurons were studied both physiologically and morphologically using intracellular recording techniques. In moth pheromone communication systems, the presence of the complete, female-produced pheromone blend is necessary for male attraction. We predicted that more protocerebral neurons, compared with AL, would display blend interactions. However, only a few protocerebral neurons responded differently to the blend than could be deduced from the response to single components. The majority of the pheromone-sensitive protocerebral neurons identified in this study responded to the major pheromone component. In coding time, most AL neurons can follow a 5-Hz odor stimulus, whereas most protocerebral neurons failed at higher frequencies than 1 Hz. The majority of neurons that responded to the odorants tested innervated one or both of the protocerebral lateral accessory lobes. If only one of these was innervated, then the innervation always displayed a varicose appearance, suggesting a presynaptic function. Thus, information seems to be transferred from other protocerebral areas to the lateral accessory lobes. Into these, descending neurons sent smooth, postsynaptic branches. A majority of the neurons innervating the superior medial protocerebrum were found to display single-component specificity. Few additional correlations between odor specificity and structural characteristics were apparent.
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