Neural Circuits for Innate Emotional Behaviors
Research in this laboratory is aimed at understanding the neurobiology of emotion. We seek to elucidate how fundamental properties common to emotional states, such as arousal, are encoded in the circuitry and chemistry of the brain and how these internal states combine with sensory stimuli to elicit specific emotional behaviors, such as fear or aggression. Our work employs molecular genetic tools to mark, map, and manipulate specific circuits to determine how identifiable populations of neurons contribute in a causal manner to behavior. These studies are complemented by the use of electrophysiology and functional imaging to measure activity in neural circuits. We use mice and the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster as model organisms, with roughly equal emphasis on each.