Mathematical Biology Seminar

Sophie Caron
Department of Biology, University of Utah

Multisensory integration in the Drosophila brain

Wednesday, December 2, 2015, at 3:05pm
LCB 219

The senses detect various physical features of the outside world. Photons, sound waves and chemicals activate different specialized receptors in peripheral sensory neurons. As sensory information can often be noisy or misleading, the brain weighs the information gathered through different senses and integrates it into a unified percept, a process referred to as 'multisensory integration'. Multisensory integration is a ubiquitous function of all brains that enables animals to form a richer and more reliable representation of the outside world. My laboratory is interested in understanding the neuronal mechanisms underlying multisensory integration using the Drosophila melanogaster mushroom body as a model system. The mushroom body is an associative brain center that has been traditionally studied in the context of olfactory learning, but growing evidence suggests it also processes information gathered through other sensory modalities. I will present our past efforts and future directions in trying to understand how the mushroom body is connected to the peripheral senses. I will also discuss how the observed wiring strategy is well suited for the function of the mushroom body in learning and memory.