Memory, motivation and individuality
Directed behaviour emerges from neural integration of sensory stimuli, memory of prior experience and internal states. The Waddell group seeks an understanding of these conserved neural mechanisms using genetically-encoded tools and the relatively small brain of Drosophila. By temporally controlling neural function memories can be implanted and internal states altered so that most flies behave according to our direction. Such recent studies have revealed a role for distinct subsets of dopaminergic neurons that innervate the mushroom bodies in reward learning, the control of motivated behaviour and the re-evaluation of learned information. The unique cellular resolution of the reinforcement system of the fly permits a detailed investigation of how it really works.
One might interpret the relative ease of altering behaviour to indicate that everything is simple in the fly brain. However, complexity arises in unexpected ways. Some transposable elements are expressed in long-term memory relevant neurons of the mushroom body. We are interested in how transposons might contribute to gene expression, cellular and organismal individuality.
We are part of the Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour.
26th July 2017
Main result from Christoph's momentous thesis project published in eLife. Resolving the prevalence of somatic transposition in Drosophila. More to come!
20th April 2017
Latest work from Johannes Felsenberg, Oliver Barnstedt, Paola Cognigni and Suewei Lin is now online in Nature. Re-evaluation of learned information.
5th December 2016
Many congratulations to my first Oxford Ph.D. student, the very talented Christoph [Charlie] Treiber who defended his thesis today.
1st July 2016
On a roll, latest from Emmanuel, David, Oliver and co-authors, now published in Neuron.
Multi-tasking inhibition in the fly brain
7th March 2016
Congratulations to Oliver, David, Johannes and co-authors on their paper, now online in Neuron.
At last we know the identity of a fast-acting neurotransmitter released from the Drosophila mushroom bodies.
Interesting Press Attention
The lab was featured in an article by Philip Ball in The Guardian /Observer.
Suewei Lin's work on water reward and thirst was featured in an article in The New Yorker from Jonathan Weiner, author of Time, Love and Memory.