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Spring 2017 GRASP Seminar: Kristin Branson, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, “Mapping Behavior to Neural Anatomy using Machine Vision and Thermogenetics”

April 14, 2017 @ 11:00 am - 12:00 pm


Assigning behavioral functions to neural structures has long been a central goal in neuroscience, and is a necessary first step toward a circuit-level understanding of how the brain generates behavior. Here we map the neural substrates of locomotion and social behaviors for Drosophila melanogaster using automated machine-vision and -learning techniques. From videos of 400,000 flies, we quantified the behavioral effects of activating 2,200 genetically targeted populations of neurons. We combined a novel quantification of anatomy with our behavioral analysis to create brain-behavior correlation maps, which are shared as browsable webpages and interactive software. Based on these maps, we discovered regions of the brain causally related to sensory processing, locomotor control, courtship, aggression, and sleep. Our maps directly specify genetic tools to target these regions, which we used to identify a small population of neurons with a role in the control of walking.


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Originally from San Diego, Kristin Branson studied Computer Science at Harvard (BA 2000) and machine vision and learning at U.C. San Diego (PhD 2007). During her postdoc at Caltech (2007-2010), Kristin developed computer vision software for automatic tracking and behavior analysis of flies. She then joined the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Janelia Research Campus in 2010, where her lab continues to develop tools for quantitative animal behavior analysis. Branson is developing machine vision and learning programs to define and quantify key behaviors in large numbers of flies and connect them to particular neuronal circuits and genetic pathways.


April 14, 2017
11:00 am - 12:00 pm
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