Osama Ahmed is a postdoctoral fellow at the Princeton Neuroscience Institute where he works in the lab of Mala Murthy. He has a B.S.E. in bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania and a Ph.D. in neuroscience from the University of California, San Francisco. As a graduate student in the lab of Nirao Shah, Ahmed studied the evolution of chemosensory mechanisms that control social behaviors. His current research focuses on investigating how neural circuits coordinate the display of distinct behaviors in drosophila. He addresses this problem at multiple scales, using brain-wide imaging, high-resolution behavioral analyses and computational modeling.
Project: Brain-wide dynamics underlying behavioral multitasking in drosophila
Nervous systems can produce a wide variety of adaptive behaviors. Yet, animals are rarely capable of executing more than a few behaviors simultaneously, showcasing that these behaviors are under profound limitations. What are these limitations and what can they teach us about brain function? Many recent studies show that even simple tasks can lead to large-scale, coordinated neural activity across brain regions, suggesting that the key to understanding computational constraints of the nervous system may lie in understanding circuit dynamics at multiple scales. Therefore, the ultimate goals of Ahmed’s research are as follows: (1) to understand the computations implemented by brain-wide networks, (2) to uncover how distinct neural circuits interact to generate and pattern complex behaviors, and (3) to investigate the natural limits of nervous system function. He will achieve these goals by studying the brain of a genetically-tractable model organism (D. melanogaster) as it performs multiple behaviors. He believes that investigating core mechanisms that underlie behavioral simultaneity will reveal more general principles of dynamic brain function, in health and disease.