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A systematic review of Drosophila short-term-memory genetics: meta-analysis reveals robust reproducibility

By Tayfun Tumkaya, Stanislav Ott, Adam Claridge-Chang

Posted 13 Jan 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/247650 (published DOI: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2018.07.016)

Geneticists use olfactory conditioning in Drosophila to identify learning genes; however, little is known about how these genes are integrated into short-term memory (STM) pathways. Here, we investigated the hypothesis that the STM evidence base is weak. We performed systematic review and meta-analysis of the field. Using metrics to quantify variation between discovery articles and follow-up studies, we found that seven genes were both highly replicated, and highly reproducible. However, ~80% of STM genes have never been replicated. While only a few studies investigated interactions, the reviewed genes could account for >1000% memory. This large summed effect size could indicate irreproducibility, many shared pathways, or that current assay protocols lack the specificity needed to identify core plasticity genes. Mechanistic theories of memory will require the convergence of evidence from system, circuit, cellular, molecular, and genetic experiments; systematic data synthesis is an essential tool for integrated neuroscience.

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