Simons Foundation Lectures are free public colloquia related to basic science and mathematics. These high-level talks are intended for professors, students, postdocs and business professionals, but interested people from the metropolitan area are welcome as well.
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.