Animals exhibit behavioral repertoires that are often innate and result in stereotyped sexual and social responses to their environment. Innate behaviors do not require learning or experience and are likely to reflect the activation of developmentally programmed neural circuits. We are interested in the nature of defined neural circuits: how activation of circuits elicits specific behaviors.
It has been extremely difficult in complex organisms to study a circuit beyond the early stages of sensory processing. Drosophila melanogaster is an attractive model system to understand a circuit because flies exhibit complex behaviors that are controlled by a nervous system that is numerically five orders of magnitude simpler than that of vertebrates.
We use a combined behavioral, genetic, imaging and electrophysiological approach to determine how defined neural circuits and their activation elicit specific behaviors.