||Department of Neurobiology|
|Mission: Our mission is to
understand key computations that occur in sensory processing and
sensorimotor integration, and to describe the mechanisms
underlying these computations.
Approach: We use the brain of the fruit fly Drosophila to investigate these questions. This brain contains only ~100,000 neurons. The genetic toolbox of this organism allows us to rapidly generate new reagents to label or manipulate specific classes of neurons in the brain. It turns out that many individual neurons are uniquely identifiable across flies and have stereotyped connectivity and activity patterns. This feature of the fly brain allows us to build up a cumulative picture of each neuron or neuron class, and to correlate connectivity with activity.
Because many neural systems in various species face the same constraints, we believe that some of the lessons we learn from this simple brain will provide clues to understanding similar problems in more complex brains.
We are currently studying several different regions of the Drosophila brain, including the olfactory, auditory, thermosensory, and mechanosensory systems.