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 Genetics of Learning and Memory


We want to understand the role of the brain in what we do. Such an understanding of brain function remains incomplete without considering that the organisation of behaviour is rooted in the brains' molecular and cellular architecture. It remains similarly incomplete, however, without a view towards the psychological corrolarries of behaviour.
  • We want to understand how mnemonic function - the acquisition, maintenance, and behavioural impact of memory - is organised at the levels of molecules, neurons, and neuronal circuits. We use behaviour experiments on larval and adult Drosophila which provide an experimental handle on these processes, and combine them with tools that allow us to express any gene of interest, in any cell, at any time. To the extent that mnemonic processes are shared between Drosophila and man, this resonates with medical research. Given the numerical simplicity of the Drosophila brain, this reveals minimal-circuit solutions that balance robustness and flexibility in the organisation of behaviour - which is interesting from an engineering perspective.
  • We seek to grasp basic psychological processes - such as perception, expectation, and self - in behavioural terms, and try to understand how these processes are brought about by the brain. This aspect of our research thus combines behavioural analyses with matters of psychology.
This combined approach can help to extend the scope of the brain sciences towards the psychological domain. Such extension to the 'assignment' of the brain sciences towards subjective life - which includes identifying the very limits of this assignment - is one of the central scientific problems of our time.

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