Research

Biological nervous systems are diverse, adaptable, and flexible.

Our research aims to identify fundamental principles underlying behavioral control to inform the design of artificial systems and our understanding of mental disorders.

To do this, we investigate how innate behaviors are controlled, diversified across species, and how new behaviors can be constructed through synthetic neuroengineering. We study the fly, Drosophila melanogaster, a member of the extraordinarily diverse Class of Insecta that also boasts an unparalleled experimental toolkit for comprehensively mapping and manipulating genes and neurons.

Neuromechanical control of behavior

We study how neural circuits and biomechanical features determine how animals respond to their environments.

Relevant publications:

Ramdya et al. Nature 2015 pdf

Maesani, Ramdya et al., PLoS Computational Biology 2015 pdf

Ramdya, Thandiackal et al., Nature Communications 2017 pdf

Evolution of 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.

Relevant publications:

Ramdya & Benton, Trends in Genetics 2010 pdf

Ramdya & Engert, Nature Neuroscience 2008 pdf

Engineering new behaviors

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 taking advantage of the comprehensive genetic toolkit in Drosophila to discover how the brain might be artifically engineered to synthesize new behaviors.

Relevant publications:

Ramdya, Thandiackal et al., Nature Communications 2017 pdf

Ramdya & Engert, Nature Neuroscience 2008 pdf