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Most organisms rely on their olfactory system to detect and analyze chemical cues in the environment, cues which are subsequently utilized in the context of behavior. The basic layout of the first olfactory processing centers, the olfactory bulb in vertebrates and the antennal lobe in insects, is remarkably similar. Odors are encoded by specific ensembles of activated glomeruli and functional in a combinatorial manner. However, a comparison of the transformation of odor representations between input to the antennal lobe and output to higher brain centers yields a complex and contradictory picture. Local interneurons in the antennal lobe may provide the neuronal substrate of this computation and represent the focus of my project. Using techniques ranging from neurogenetics to neurophysiology and behavioral studies in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, I will investigate the function of different types of local interneurons (LNs) in the formatting odor representation in the antennal lobe of the adult and the larva.
last updated on 2013-02-27