Major Research Interests
We study neuronal mechanisms underlying olfaction, learning and memory, and goal-directed behavior using the model organism Drosophila melanogaster. The fruit fly Drosophila offers the advantage of expressing transgenes in almost any population of it’s about 100.000 neurons. Transgenes used by us are, for example, fluorescent sensor proteins that allow us to monitor the spatio-temporal activity of neurons, or light-sensitive proteins by which neuronal activity can be stimulated through illumination. Using these optogenetic techniques in combination with behavioral analyses we aim at unraveling the functioning of dedicated neuronal circuits, and how these circuits contribute to organizing behavior. In addition, molecular mechanisms underlying learning and memory processes are investigated.