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Boyan, George; Liu, Yu (2016): Development of the Neurochemical Architecture of the Central Complex. In: Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, Vol. 10, 167


The central complex represents one of the most conspicuous neuroarchitectures to be found in the insect brain and regulates a wide repertoire of behaviors including locomotion, stridulation, spatial orientation and spatial memory. In this review article, we show that in the grasshopper, a model insect system, the intricate wiring of the fan-shaped body (FB) begins early in embryogenesis when axons from the first progeny of four protocerebral stem cells (called W, X, Y, Z, respectively) in each brain hemisphere establish a set of tracts to the primary commissural system. Decussation of subsets of commissural neurons at stereotypic locations across the brain midline then establishes a columnar neuroarchitecture in the FB which is completed during embryogenesis. Examination of the expression patterns of various neurochemicals in the central complex including neuropeptides, a neurotransmitter and the gas nitric oxide (NO), show that these appear progressively and in a substance-specific manner during embryogenesis. Each neuroactive substance is expressed by neurons located at stereotypic locations in a given central complex lineage, confirming that the stem cells are biochemically multipotent. The organization of axons expressing the various neurochemicals within the central complex is topologically related to the location, and hence birthdate, of the neurons within the lineages. The neurochemical expression patterns within the FB are layered, and so reflect the temporal topology present in the lineages. This principle relates the neuroanatomical to the neurochemical architecture of the central complex and so may provide insights into the development of adaptive behaviors.