Modeling Neural Circuit Sensorimotor Transformations in Drosophila Larvae

Deciphering how external stimuli (e.g. light, heat, sound, odour) trigger cellular and molecular processes leading to behavioural changes requires knowledge of the neuronal connectome and its functional properties. Drosophila larvae make an outstanding case study due to a small number of neurons controlling sophisticated behavioural tasks.

Using light as a primary external stimulus, we aim to study the locomotor trajectories defined by a combination of runs and turns that can be analysed by computer-aided video tracking. Transitions between runs and turns are randomly chosen in the absence of external stimuli, but are targeted in the presence of stimuli. By genetically manipulating components of the visual circuit, we will learn about their function and their interplay in determining specific tasks.

Statistical models will be fitted to data collected for larval trajectories. Such models will allow the testing of various objective functions that determine the dynamics of the trajectories via their minima or maxima. Furthermore, in collaboration with researchers from other labs, we aim to set up a circuit model that can link the decisions taken by the larvae with the dynamics of the neurons in the connectome matrix. 

Keywords: Neurogenetics, neuronal models, neuronal circuits, visual circuits, circuit model, Drosophila, connectome, Infotaxis algorithms, Metropolis dynamics, Doubly Stochastic Poisson processes



 Lucia De Andres

Lucia De Andres
University of Fribourg
Department of Biology
Boulevard de Pérolles 73
CH - 1700 Fribourg

Phone: +34 67 934 72 13