Simons Foundation Presidential Lectures are free public colloquia centered on four main themes: Biology, Physics, Mathematics and Computer Science, and Neuroscience and Autism Science. These curated, high-level scientific talks feature leading scientists and mathematicians and are intended to foster discourse and drive discovery among the broader NYC-area research community. We invite researchers in the area — as well as interested members of the metropolitan public — to join us for this weekly lecture series.
In this lecture, Gerald Rubin will discuss efforts to develop and apply the tools that will be required for a comprehensive analysis of the anatomy and function of the fly brain at the level of individual cell types and circuits, using examples from his lab’s recent work on visual perception, as well as the mechanisms of learning and memory.
Rubin will describe how an analysis of neuronal cell types and their connectivity can be combined with quantitative behavioral and physiological data to probe the mechanisms underlying fundamental neuronal computations. By assaying and manipulating the function of well-defined neurons (individual cell types), his team seeks to work toward models of how neural circuits control behavior. Many of the tools and data sets required to support such a comprehensive approach are now becoming available in Drosophila, an animal exhibiting many complex behaviors. Will they be sufficient to understand how a brain executes complex computations to achieve sophisticated behaviors? Time will tell.