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In invertebrates and vertebrates, networks of interconnected pacemaker neurons control waking behavior. The mechanisms regulating the daily activity of these neurons and the extent of their conservation are unknown. Using patch clamp electrophysiology, we define a novel mechanism by which core clocks regulate membrane excitability. Moreover, we find that this pathway is conserved between Drosophila and the mouse, suggesting an ancient evolutionary origin of a set of neurons governing sleep/wake behavior. Sleep is also intimately linked to learning and memory processes. I will present a model by which the control of sleep and arousal by the mushroom bodies may contribute to their well-established roles in learning and memory.

Ravi Allada received his M.D from the University of Michigan and completed a residency in clinical pathology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. During medical school he was an HHMI–NIH Research Scholar working on the molecular genetics of general anesthesia in Drosophila. As an HHMI Physician Postdoctoral Fellow with Michael Rosbash at Brandeis University he cloned the Drosophila clock gene, a master transcription factor for circadian rhythms. In 2000, he joined the faculty at Northwestern University, where he is currently Professor and Chair of the Department of Neurobiology, Professor in the Department of Pathology, and Associate Director of the Center for Sleep and Circadian Biology.

For further information please contact Fiona Woods at fiona.woods@cncb.ox.ac.uk