Our interdisciplinary laboratory is mixture of enthusiastic life scientist, physicists and engineers, whose goal is to understand the fundamental principles underlying the function and development of neural circuits in health and disease. In order to achieve this aim, we use genetically tractable small model organisms, zebrafish and fruitfly. We monitor, dissect and perturb the brain circuits, through a unique combination of functional imaging, optogenetics, electrophysiological recordings, molecular genetics and quantitative behavioral assays.
Our laboratory has 3 major research lines
Chemosensory computations: Our primary goal is to understand how chemosensory world (smell and taste) is represented in animal brain and how these computations regulate different behavioral programs (e.g. fear, arousal, feeding). Moreover, we are interested in understanding how these representations are modulated by behavioral states of animals (e.g, stress and hunger) as well as other sensory modalities (e.g. vision). We achieve this by focusing on those brain areas that integrate information from multiple sensory modalities and closely relate to behavior (e.g. habenula, brainstem). Small and accessible brain of zebrafish provides an exceptional framework for studying the neural circuit computations both locally and across multiple brain regions simultaneously.
Functional development of the brain: Throughout development not only the number of neurons increases drastically but also the composition and architecture of neural circuits is altered. We study how the constant neurogenesis during development influences the function and architecture of chemosensory circuits. We achieve this by combining state of the art systems neuroscience techniques with developmental neurobiology to study and compare the brain computations in developing and adult zebrafish brain.
Neural circuit mechanisms underlying neurological diseases: Finally, our laboratory is always open to reach out to the local and international science community for providing the expertise in studying neural circuit function and architecture to investigate the changes in brain circuits underlying neurological diseases. A small core in our laboratory is interested in applying systems neuroscience tools to zebrafish and fruitfly models of neurological diseases (e.g. Fragile X syndrome and epilepsy). Our aim is to understand the alterations in neural circuit computations and connectivity in these disease models.
On the long term, we expect that our work on the neural computations will inspire scientist not only to simulate and imitate brain circuits in silico, but also comprehend neural mechanisms underlying neurological conditions such as stress, anxiety, eating disorders or neurodegenerative diseases and inspire the development of novel therapies.
Methods we use:
– Two-photon microscopy
– Electrophysiological recordings
– Applied Mathematics
– Molecular genetics
– Behavioral assays