Bending the mind of the fruit fly


May 1, 2014 - 12:00pm
NW B103
About the Speaker
Scott Waddell (Oxford)

Directed behaviour emerges from neural integration of sensory stimuli, memory of prior experience and internal states. We study these conserved neural mechanisms using genetically-encoded tools and the relatively small brain of Drosophila. By temporally controlling neural function, memories can be implanted and internal states altered so that most flies behave according to our direction. I will discuss unpublished work with hunger and thirst-directed behaviours. These studies reveal functionally discrete subsets of dopaminergic neurons and plausible sites of learning-relevant synaptic plasticity. We hope they will ultimately lead to neural mechanisms that resolve motivational conflict.