Mushroom bodies (MBs) are multisensory integration centers in the insect brain involved in learning and memory formation. In the honeybee, the main sensory input region (calyx) of MBs is comparatively large and receives input from mainly olfactory and visual senses, but also from gustatory/tactile modalities. Behavioral plasticity following differential brood care, changes in sensory exposure or the formation of associative long-term memory (LTM) was shown to be associated with structural plasticity in synaptic microcircuits (microglomeruli) within olfactory and visual compartments of the MB calyx. In the same line, physiological studies have demonstrated that MB-calyx microcircuits change response properties after associative learning. The aim of this review is to provide an update and synthesis of recent research on the plasticity of microcircuits in the MB calyx of the honeybee, specifically looking at the synaptic connectivity between sensory projection neurons (PNs) and MB intrinsic neurons (Kenyon cells). We focus on the honeybee as a favorable experimental insect for studying neuronal mechanisms underlying complex social behavior, but also compare it with other insect species for certain aspects. This review concludes by highlighting open questions and promising routes for future research aimed at understanding the causal relationships between neuronal and behavioral plasticity in this charismatic social insect.
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