Associate Professor Ethan Scott: Neural circuits and behaviour

In the Scott Lab, we are interested in the workings of the brain at the level of cells and circuits.  We aim to understand how sensory stimuli are perceived and processed in the brain, and how the brain then interprets these stimuli to produce adaptive behaviours.

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Researcher biography

Ethan Scott earned his undergraduate degree at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, where he studied molecular genetics in yeast under the mentorship of Prof. Thomas Petes. He then moved to Stanford University, and the lab of Prof. Liqun Luo, for his PhD work in developmental neuroscience. This work involved using targeted transgenics in Drosophila to express protein tools that revealed neurons' structures and contributions to sensory processing. This approach, using transgenics to explore the structure and function of neurons and networks, has formed the basis of his subsequent work. As a postdoc with Prof. Herwig Baier at UC-San Francisco, Ethan developed Gal4 enhancer trapping in the zebrafish model system, providing transgenic reagents for the exploration of this system's neural networks. In 2007, he established his own lab in the School of Biomedical Sciences at UQ, where he served as a lecturer, senior lecturer, and associate professor, before moving to QBI in 2020.

Ethan's research group at QBI blends optical physics, neuroscience, and computational biology to describe sensory networks in zebrafish. The backbone of this approach is whole-brain calcium imaging at cellular resolution, whereby all of the brain's neurons can be probed for activity simultaneously. This permits the characterisation of brain-wide networks responsible for vision, hearing, vestibular perception, and the detection of water flow around the zebrafish larva. Ongoing work includes the modelling of these networks computationally, the description of simple sensory learning such as habituation, the exploration of networks responsible for sensory integration, and the modelling of sensory phenotypes in human psychiatric disorders including autism and fragile X syndrome.