Lindsey Salay, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow, California Institute of Technology
Lindsey Salay headshot

Lindsey Salay is a postdoctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology where she works with David Anderson and Doris Tsao. She holds a Bachelor of Science in neurobiology from the University of Miami and a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Stanford University. During her graduate work in the lab of Andrew Huberman, she studied neural circuits that flexibly control behavioral responses to visual threats. Her current research focuses on investigating neural mechanisms for the selection and initiation of courtship actions. To address this problem, she uses a wide range of tools, including electrophysiology, high-resolution behavioral analyses and genetic approaches to manipulate the activity of neurons.

Project: Sensory-motor transformations in innate emotional behaviors

Our emotions exert a powerful influence on our actions. As a situation evolves, the brain must rapidly assess both the external world and internal state to evaluate how to act. Interestingly, distinct emotion states can evoke similar actions, such as running away from a predator or toward a potential mate. Separate emotion states may therefore be filtered through similar circuits, or “channels,” across the brain to give rise to a constrained set of appropriate behaviors. How the flow of information conveying external sensation and internal states is transformed across stations in the brain to trigger specific actions remains unclear.

The goal of my research is to understand 1) how the brain selects and initiates actions via the extensive network of interconnected regions downstream of emotion centers in the brain; and 2) whether similar action channels are indeed recruited by distinct emotion states (e.g., fear, hunting, mating or aggression). By combining large-scale activity recordings across brain stations during naturalistic behaviors with cell type-specific neural manipulations, I seek to provide new insights into internal brain processes for transforming sensation into action.

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