Aravinthan Samuel, Ph.D.
Department of Physics and Center for Brain Science
Circuits and behavior in C. elegans and DrosophilaAnimals are intrinsically computational. We acquire sensory information about our environments, transform this information into neural representations and memories, and calculate and execute decisions based on recent and past experiences. Our own brains are staggeringly complex, with billions of neurons networked by trillions of synapses. But the basic materials of our brains - molecular and cellular structures and interactions - are shared with our animal relatives. Well-chosen model organisms can be accessible vantage points with perspective over general biological principles. We study brain and behavior in the roundworm C. elegans and the Drosophila larva. Applying recent advances in microscopy and optics, we are able to manipulate and monitor the workings of the neural circuits of these intact behaving animals. In this way, we strive to link brain and behavior in these small but fascinating creatures.
Leifer A, Fang-Yen C, Gershow M, Alkema M, Samuel AD (2011) Optogenetic control with high spatial and temporal resolution in freely moving C. elegans. Nature Methods, 8:147-152.
Gershow M, Berck, M, Mathew, D, Luo, L, Kane, E, Carlson, JR, and Samuel AD (2012) Controlling airborne cues during small animal navigation. Nature Methods 9: 290-296.
Wen Q, et al. (2012) Proprioceptive coupling within motor neurons drives C. elegans forward locomotion. Neuron, 76:750-761.
Kane EA et al. (2013) Sensorimotor structure of Drosophila larva phototaxis. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 110:E3868–77.
Luo, L., et al. (2014). Bidirectional thermotaxis in Caenorhabditis elegans is mediated by distinct sensorimotor strategies driven by the AFD thermosensory neurons. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 111(7), 2776–2781.
Luo, L., et al. (2014). Dynamic Encoding of Perception, Memory, and Movement in a C. elegans Chemotaxis Circuit. Neuron, 82(5), 1115–1128.
Laboratory: Northwest Bldg., Room 258, Cambridge, MA 02138