Research interests in my laboratory focuses on understanding how emotional behavior is encoded in the brain, at the level of specific neuronal circuits, and the specific neuronal subtypes that comprise them. We want to understand the structure and dynamic properties of these circuits and how they give rise to the outward behavioral expressions of emotions such as fear, anxiety or anger. This information will provide a framework for understanding how and where in the brain emotions are influenced by genetic variation and environmental influence ("nature" and "nurture"), and the mechanism of action of drugs used to treat psychiatric disorders such as depression. We are using both mice and the vinegar fly Drosophila melanogaster as model systems. A central focus of the laboratory is on the neural circuits underlying aggression, fear and anxiety. We are using molecular genetic tools, as well as functional imaging and electrophysiology, to establish cause-and-effect relationships between the activity of specific neuronal circuits and behavior. We hope that this research will lead to new insights into the organization of emotion circuits, and their dysregulation in psychiatric disorders.