Science Happy Hour: Small Brains, Big Science
The human brain is knotty and complex, composed of over 100 billion nerve cells. It is often compared to a computer, but even our best computer models cannot simulate its complexity. So what can scientists do?
We focus on animals that are small and simple, like the larva of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. This little animal’s brain turns out to have a lot in common with yours (and with the majority of other humans). Like you, the fruit fly uses input from its nerve cells to integrate information from its physical surroundings to make decisions. What’s particularly advantageous about these organisms is that their larvae are transparent. With control we can photograph the activity of individual nerve cells, and use a technique called optogenetics to turn these nerve cells on or off.
Join us to hear Professor Marc Gershow, Assistant Professor of Physics and Neural Science at NYU, discuss his work on larval fly brains. Professor Gershow’s work combines techniques and insights from physics as well neuroscience to study animal behavior at the level of individual neurons. Professor Gershow has been honored with an NSF CAREER Award and NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, and he will inspire you to think differently about fly brains.