Neural Mechanisms of Natural Behavioral Choice

January 12, 2021 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
Gwyneth Card, hosted by John Pearson

Duke Neurobiology welcomes Gwyneth Card, PhD, Group Leader at HHMI Janelia Research Campus. Please email for connection details.
Abstract: Selecting the right behavior at the right time is critical for animal survival. Animals rely on their senses to deliver information about the environment to brain processing areas that extract relevant features and form the perceptual representations that guide behavior. We aim to uncover the anatomical and conceptual organization of this feature space, resolved at the individual neuron level. Our current focus is visually-driven behaviors of the fly. In particular, those driven by visual looming cues produced by an approaching predator or an imminent collision. The same looming stimulus can evoke a wide range of different behaviors, including a rapid escape jump, a slower, more stable takeoff sequence, or a landing response. We have created a library of transgenic fly lines that target the descending neuron population with cell-type specificity. We use these genetic tools along with whole-cell patch clamp physiology in behaving flies, calcium imaging, and high-throughput/high-resolution behavioral assays to examine the complete transformation of information from sensory to motor and how this transformation is modified by context, such as behavioral state. I will discuss our recent work investigating the representation of ethologically-relevant visual features in the fly optic glomeruli and the mechanis