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Optical Control of Neurons; Neuronal Control of Behaviour

Optogenetic control: a light beam is used to write information to nerve cells in the brain
Optogenetic control: a light beam is used to write information to nerve cells in the brain

For every mobile organism, life is a string of choices: to stay or go, approach or avoid, stay awake or fall asleep, pay attention or let the mind drift.

The Miesenböck group studies how the brain makes choices. We investigate how neurons represent and distinguish the available alternatives; how options are valued on the basis of instinct or remembered experience; how decisions evolve toward commitment; and how commitment leads to action.

All of this work is done in fruit flies, where it is possible to gain detailed insight into molecular, cellular, and physiological mechanisms of brain function that relate directly to human health.

The group is renowned for many technological innovations, including the invention of optogenetics, the development of genetically encoded probes for imaging neuronal activity, and the construction of automated systems for high-resolution measurement of individual behaviour.

We are based in the Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour.

Our team

Selected publications

Related research themes