Michael Nitabach

Yale University

Neural Circuits Controlling Innate Behavior: Wriggling Worms and Snoozing Flies

Thursday 13 March 2014

Location: Oxford Martin School, Old Indian Institute, 34 Broad Street, Oxford

Abstract: Since my undergraduate years, I have been captivated by the question of how neural circuits perform the computations that underlie complex animal behaviors. At that time, the most sophisticated techniques available for manipulating and measuring nervous system function in the behaving animal were electrical stimulation/lesioning and single-unit recordings, respectively. These techniques only permitted cellular targeting based on gross anatomical subdivisions. As a result of the tool development work occurring in my lab and many others over the last several decades, we now have available highly refined approaches for manipulating and measuring neural function in specific genetically targeted subsets of neurons in vivo. Ongoing work in my lab is focused on developing and deploying such approaches to elucidate the cellular, molecular, and biophysical mechanisms of neural computation that control innate behaviors in flies and worms.