The central complex
The central complex (CX) is an unpaired collection of neuropils located on the midline of the protocerebrum in several insect species. It is comprised of several sets of neurons that interweave to form an intricate matrix and connect to several brain regions. The CX has been implicated in several functions including locomotion, polarisation vision and memory. Taking advantage of the genetic toolbox offered by the model organism Drosophila, my research has recently focused on the neuroanatomy and development of the CX. We now hope to use these tools to investigate the role of the CX in a repertoire of behaviours.
Associative learning in Drosophila
Understanding how memories are formed and stored is one of the major challenges of neuroscience. We are investigating the underlying neural circuits required for learning and memory formation in Drosophila . Using the classic T-maze apparatus (right) we are investigating olfactory associative learning and memory. We are also interested in investigating the circuitry underlying courtship conditioning.
I am currently working with Douglas Armstrong and Barbara Webb on an EPSRC funded project entitled 'Context-dependent and multimodal learning: from insect brains to robot controllers' . Our approach combines lab based behavioural analysis with the building of computational models.