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Department of Zoology

 

During the development of Drosophila, a critical period exists in the locomotor system during which the network determines neuronal activity set-points. This means that during this period the network is susceptible to activity manipulations, which lead to permanent changes in network properties and therefore function.

I am interested in understanding how different, transient manipulations during the critical period in late embryogenesis lead to lasting changes in nervous system function, as expressed in animal behaviour. Specifically, I am investigating when during embryogenesis the network is adjusting, and how adjustments scale in response to ranges of manipulations. As manipulations I use incubation temperature during late embryogenesis, genetic manipulations or drug feedings. I am carrying out behavioural analyses (of larval crawling and coordination) as well as detailed investigation of synaptic composition to elucidate how, during development, the nervous system takes stock of its environment and adjusts its properties accordingly.