Unlike robotic controllers, biological nervous systems and behavior are diverse, adaptable, and flexible.
Our research aims to identify fundamental principles underlying these differences to inform our understanding of the mind, mental disorders, and the improved design of artificial systems.
To do this, we investigate the fly, Drosophila melanogaster, which offers an unparalleled experimental toolkit for comprehensively mapping and manipulating genes and neurons.
Recording neural population activity in vivo
Most recently, we have developed tools for measuring the encoding of internal states, sensory, and motor signals in tethered, behaving animals.
Chen, Hermans et al., Nature Communications 2018 pdf
Günel et al., bioRxiv, under review, 2019 pdf
Neuromechanical control of behavior
We have studied how social interactions, and neural dynamics determine how animals respond to their environments.
Ramdya et al. Nature 2015 pdf
Maesani, Ramdya et al., PLoS Computational Biology 2015 pdf
Evolving and genetically re-engineering behavior
Divergent behaviors across species represent solutions to unique ethological challenges. We are asking how these adaptations are reflected at the levels of neural circuit organization and function. Because the actions of extant species likely represent only a small fraction of the potential behaviors that may be generated by the nervous system, we are also taking advantage of the comprehensive genetic toolkit in Drosophila to discover how the brain might be artifically engineered to modify behavior.
Ramdya, Thandiackal et al., Nature Communications 2017 pdf
Ramdya & Benton, Trends in Genetics 2010 pdf
Ramdya & Engert, Nature Neuroscience 2008 pdf