Prof Barry Dickson or Dr Kai Feng

Project: Neural Circuits, Genetics and Behaviour

As animals walk, run, or hop, motor circuits in the spinal cord convert descending “command” signals from the brain into the coordinated movements of many different leg muscles. How are command signals from the brain deconvolved into the appropriate patterns of motor neuron activity? We aim to answer this question for Drosophila by studying the functional organization of leg motor circuits in the ventral nerve cord, the fly’s analogue of the spinal cord. In Drosophila, individual neuronal cell types can be reproducibly identified and manipulated using genetic reagents that have been developed to target specific descending neurons, interneurons, or motor neurons. We have also established imaging pipeline to identify novel neurons that are behaviourally relevant and probe how they talk to each other. A range of projects involving optogenetics, two-photon imaging, machine learning assisted behavioural analysis and circuit modelling are currently open to honours students with a background in any area of molecular biology or experimental or theoretical neuroscience.


How to apply