Professor Gwyneth Card
Janelia Research Campus
Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Virginia, USA

Title: "Small brains, big decisions: uncovering neural mechanisms for real-world choices"


How do brains make decisions?  Choosing the right action at the right time is critical for survival.  Animals rely on their senses to collect information about the world around them.  They combine that information with internal thoughts to appropriately guide their behavior.  However, how specific neural connections produce such choices is unclear because the relevant neural activity can be distributed across the entire sensory-motor hierarchy, and studying broad networks at synaptic resolution remains a challenge.  But now, new tools emerging for studying the brain of the fly, Drosophila, enable such a system-wide approach.  The fly brain is the most complex biological neural network to date for which there is now a map of all the synaptic-level connections, a “connectome”.  Genetic tools allow researchers to address specific individual neurons or cell types in the brain, to turn them on or off or observe their activity.  Physiological methods allow intracellular recording or calcium imaging during head-fixed behaviors in virtual reality worlds.  Together these approaches allow us to examine neurons and circuits of known connectivity and determine how they function in real-world situations.  I will discuss our recent work using such tools to investigate the representation of ethologically-relevant visual features in the fly central brain and the mechanisms by which descending neurons read out this feature information to produce an appropriate behavioral choice.

About Neuroscience Seminars

Neuroscience seminars at the QBI play a major role in the advancement of neuroscience in the Asia-Pacific region. The primary goal of these seminars is to promote excellence in neuroscience through the exchange of ideas, establishing new collaborations and augmenting partnerships already in place.

Seminars in the QBI Auditorium on Level 7 are held on Wednesdays at 12-1pm, which are sometimes simulcast on Zoom (with approval from the speaker). We also occassionally hold seminars from international speakers via Zoom. The days and times of these seminars will vary depending on the time zone of the speaker. Please see each seminar listed below for details. 


Neuroscience Seminars archive 2005-2018