Research in Zoology
The group aims to understand neural mechanisms that relate directly to the behaviour of an animal. We focus on sensory processing (visual, auditory, proprioceptive), motor control, and phenotypic plasticity and epigenetic remodelling in insects, birds and mice. Our approach spans the boundaries between molecular biology, neurobiology, theoretical modelling and neuroethology in the evolutionary context of the behaviour of the whole animal. Simon Laughlin combines experiment and theory to analyse the molecular and cellular factors that determine the energetic costs of information processing in neurons. Berthold Hedwig studies calcium dynamics in single neurons and acoustic communication in insects: how individual neurons generate the song and then enable it to be recognised by another insect. Swidbert Ott analyses mechanisms of epigenetic remodelling at the level of signalling pathways and identified neurons in locusts as they change between solitarious and gregarious phases. Malcolm Burrows analyses the neuronal and mechanical mechanisms that generate rapid jumping movements in insects. Brian McCabe works on the neural mechanisms of imprinting in domestic chicks.