Understanding how the brain functions embraces mechanisms spanning multiple levels of description, from genes to biochemical pathways, from neurons to circuits, from circuit activities to adaptive behaviors. In FLiACT project is to train young researchers in the concepts and techniques necessary to study integrated brain functions.
All FLiACT fellows investigate how neuronal systems in the brain control behavior, using the powerful fly model system Drosophila melanogaster. Two of the fellows analyze sensory-driven behaviors in fly larvae (Ibrahim Tastekin, CRG and Ivan Larderet, UNIFR). All other fellows work with adult flies. The research they perform ranges from the understanding of the genetic basis for the development and evolution of neuronal mechanisms in the fly to the application of this basic knowledge to medicine.
Three fellows explore the genetic and neuronal origin of specific behavioral processes, such as the evolution of oviposition site (Marianthi Karageorgi, IDBML), the control backwards walking (Rajyashree Sen, IMP) and development of sensory organs in the fly (Simon Weinberger, VIB).
Three fellows focus on the characterization how internal state or external sensory stimuli are processed by the brain to produce specific behavioral responses. The behaviors they study range from sensory orientation induced by olfactory stimuli (Ibrahim Tastekin, CRG, Sercan Sayin MPIN) or by visual stimuli (Ivan Larderet, UNIFR) to probe extension modulated by mating state (Samuel Walker, FCG).
Guangda Liu (Peira) and Tanmay Nath (DCILabs) are working together and in close collaboration with VIB to develop a tool to conduct a comprehensive recording of fly behavior: the Flyworld. This tool is composed of a Fly chamber surrounded by LCD screens, light sources and high speed cameras, and it will enable FLiACT researchers to record and individually track the movements and interactions of multiple flies, while providing them with a wide range of visual stimuli. Valentina Ferlito (Brainwave) is exploring the potential of Drosophila melanogaster as a model to screen new drugs for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
For more details on the fellows' projects please check this page