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.

Relevant publications:

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.

Relevant publications:

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.

Relevant publications:

Ramdya, Thandiackal et al., Nature Communications 2017 pdf

Ramdya & Benton, Trends in Genetics 2010 pdf

Ramdya & Engert, Nature Neuroscience 2008 pdf