Maria Luisa Vasconcelos

Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown

Circuits of Innate Behaviour

Tuesday 30 September 2014

Location: Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour, Tinsley Building, Mansfield Road, Oxford

Abstract: Animals exhibit behavioural repertoires that are often innate and result in stereotyped sexual and social responses. Innate behaviours are likely to reflect the activation of developmentally programmed neural circuits. We focus on two innate behaviours in the fruit fly: courtship and carbon dioxide avoidance. We study the underlying circuits using a combined behavioural, genetic, imaging and electrophysiological approach.

Biography: Luisa Vasconcelos was a graduate student with Larry Zipursky at the University of California in Los Angeles, where she studied Dscam, a cell surface molecule of the immunoglobulin superfamily that plays an important role in sculpting neural circuits. In 2004 she joined Richard Axel’s group at Columbia University as a postdoctoral fellow. There she identified elements of a neural circuit that governs dimorphic sexual behaviours. She started her independent career at the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência in 2008 and joined the Champalimaud Neuroscience Programme in 2012.