Pavan Ramdya

Center for Integrative Genomics, Lausanne

The Organization of Behavior in Drosophila: Insights from Robotics

Tuesday 02 December 2014

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

Abstract: Neuroscience and robotics share the common ultimate goal of understanding how systems can be built to move effectively through the world. Robotics has since its inception drawn continuous inspiration from biology. By contrast, engineering insights have received considerably less attention from biologists. Chief among these insights is the idea that physical embodiment can profoundly shape an agent’s behavior within its environment. In this talk I will show how this principle applies to the actions of the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. First, I will describe how groups of flies interact to produce collective responses to sensory stimuli. Second, I will reveal a link between leg biomechanics and the coordination of walking. These studies demonstrate the importance of studying the brain in a mobile, embodied context and illustrate the scientific opportunities that lie at the interface between neuroscience and robotics.