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We are exploring the cognitive repertoire of adult Danionella fish to understand distributed circuits underlying naturalistic behavior.
A promising approach to understanding how brains generate behavior is first examining why animals behave in a certain way and what algorithms they use to do so. Coupled with whole-brain recordings and manipulation, this allows for interpreting neural responses relative to behavioral strategies that animals have evolved. We are exploring a novel animal model, Danionella fish, for which whole-brain recordings are possible in developed neural circuits of adult fish. We are interested in naturalistic behaviors that likely recruit developed circuits such as nest-mark orientation, long-distance sensory tracking during foraging, and collective behavior. The dream outcome is modelling behaviors that afford Danionella flexibility in an uncertain environment, going beyond (but likely utilizing) short-latency sensorimotor adaptation and developmentally-prescribed movement patterns. Going forward, we want to translate these behaviors to whole-brain recordings, leverage intra-species behavioral variability, and develop a molecular toolbox for neural circuit manipulation.
We have opportunities for postdoctoral scholars as well as graduate and postbaccalaureate students. We are looking for candidates from diverse backgrounds looking to understand the mechanisms of cognition and have the independence to work in a small group. These are not a requirement, but training in computational ethology and programming experience will be very helpful to start swimming at full stroke.
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