Computations underlying spatial navigation in Drosophila


March 27, 2018 - 12:00pm - 1:15pm
Northwest Building, Room B103
About the Speaker
Gaby Maimon
Speaker Title: 
Associate Professor
Speaker Affiliation: 

Mammalian brains store and update quantitative internal variables. Primates and rodents, for example, have an internal sense of whether they are 1 or 10 meters away from a landmark and whether a ripe fruit is twice or four times as appetizing as a less ripe counterpart. Such quantitative internal signals are at the heart of cognitive function, however, our understanding of how the brain stores and updates these variables remains fragmentary. In this seminar, I will discuss functional imaging and neuronal perturbation experiments in tethered, walking fruit flies. The goal of these experiments is to determine how internal variables are calculated by the tiny Drosophila brain and how these variables influence behavior. The talk will focus on the role of the central complex––a prominent set of neuropils in the middle of the insect brain––in performing quantitative variable calculations for guiding navigation.