From Genes and Neurons to Behavior
Neural networks are made of connected neurons. Their orchestrated activity generates complex behavioral outputs But how does the collective activity of neurons generate meaning? Moreover, how gene expression programs shape neural activity and consequently behavior?
To address these fundamental questions we use C. elegans worms as the animal model system. With a fully-mapped wiring diagram of 302 neurons, and its compatibility with a myriad of molecular and genetic manipulations, C. elegans worms offer a unique opportunity to address such questions.
In the lab, we study these questions on multiple levels - from gene expression programs and functional dynamics in single neurons to computation in neural circuits and behavior. For this, we use Systems Biology approaches combining experiments, modelling and theory.
Plasticity in Neural Networks
1. Principles for encoding memories
Are there design principles by which memories are encoded in a neural network?
2. Stressful memories - how and why?
What happens when reminded of a stressful memory?
Could stressful memories be transferred to the progeny?
Whole-brain functional imaging reveals the individual neurons that store a memory.
Navigation and decision making
In this context, we study how C. elegans animals encode the 'perplexing' outside world. We are interested to reveal how environmental information is sensed, integrated and propagated in the neural network.
Consequently, we study how animals make decisions based on the features extracted from the environment.
Tracking navigation of multiple animals at a time