Modeling the sensorimotor computations that direct orientation behavior through active sampling

May 25, 2018, Webb 1100

Matthieu Louis

UCSB, Life Science


Behavioral strategies employed for chemotaxis have been studied across phyla, but the neural computations underlying odor-guided behaviors remain poorly understood. By combining electrophysiology, quantitative behavioral analysis and computational modeling, we explore how dynamical olfactory signals experienced during unconstrained motion are processed by the peripheral olfactory system of the Drosophila larva. We exploit virtual olfactory environments created based on optogenetics to study how this information is converted into elementary orientation decisions. Our work aims to quantitatively describe the sensorimotor loop that underlies the acquisition of sensory information through active movements of the body.

Speaker's Bio

Dr. Louis received his BA/MA in Theoretical Physics from the Free University of Brussels (Belgium). For his PhD research, he was a pre-doctoral fellow of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) at the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI). He graduated in Systems Biology from the University of Cambridge. His doctoral thesis focused on modeling the function of a gene regulatory network during Drosophila development. During the completion of his thesis, Dr. Louis became increasingly interested in the function of neural networks. He joined the laboratory of Leslie Vosshall at the Rockefeller University where he studied the mechanisms underlying the detection of olfactory signals in the Drosophila larva. At end of his post-doctoral training, Dr. Louis became a junior Group Leader at the EMBL-CRG Systems Biology Unit of the Centre for Genomic Regulation in Barcelona (Spain). As an independent investigator, he worked on delineating how orientation decisions emerge from neural computations carried out by the larval brain. Since Summer 2016, he is an Assistant Professor at the University of California Santa Barbara.