Coding of Animal Behavior
How do animals filter sensory information from their environment and integrate it with their past experience and their internal states to produce an appropriate behavioral response? What is the molecular and wiring logic of the central neural circuitry that parses complex information? How do drugs of abuse co-opt central brain circuits to drive maladaptive behavior?
We aim to find some of the molecular and neural circuit mechanisms that govern adult behavior in the fruit fly Drosophila. The fly nervous system is a million-fold simpler than ours, yet flies are capable of carrying out remarkably sophisticated tasks that are modified by past experience and internal states. However, the biological bases for even simple behavioral actions that serve as models for more complex tasks remain mysterious. Understanding how circuits function in a model organism where rapid progress can be made with highly sophisticated tools is likely to provide insight into how more complicated brains work.