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We are seeking to understand how neural representations of the sensory world generate learned behavioral responses.
Multiple distributed neuronal circuits in the brain process and store distinct facets of information acquired during learning. Even a simple form of associative learning such as fear conditioning induces enduring changes, referred to as memory engrams, in distributed circuits. Do these multiple engrams serve different mnemonic functions? How are they integrated to control behavior? Localizing these distributed engrams, understanding what information is stored in each individual memory unit, and discovering how units interact to function as one network are important but highly challenging problems.
Using the Drosophila mushroom body, a key center for associative learning in insect brains, as a model system, we are studying the molecular and circuit mechanisms that underlie distinct learning rules in parallel memory units and how distributed memories are integrated to guide action selection.