Lab Synopsis

The overall goal of our research is to understand how the nervous system detects, encodes and transmits sensory information underlying innate social behaviors, such as securing a mate, parenting, and bonding. To address this, we study the neuronal, genetic and molecular mechanisms underlying chemically-mediated social behaviors in the nematode C. elegans. The specific goals of our research are to understand how neurons interpret social signals both individually and as members of circuits to produce specific behaviors in C. elegans. At a molecular level, we identify genes and signaling pathways involved in response to these signals in C. elegans. We complement these studies by understanding the mechanisms by which social and environmental experiences affect these innate social behaviors. Given the simpler nervous system of C. elegans and its high degree of conservation of neuronal and molecular pathways, understanding how social recognition occurs in the worm nervous system can provide insights into how more complex neural systems such as the human brain encode social information.

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