Group leader: Claire Eschbach

Recurrent Circuits, Learning and Memory

In brief

The formation of a flexible memory is a key function for any individual immersed in a dynamic environment and needing to make choices. Indeed, it allows monitoring and predicting the consequences – positive or negative – resulting from such choices, which will also impact future choices. In many invertebrate and vertebrate animal species, the brain circuits used to assess these consequences are based on recurrent connections and neuromodulation, generally dopaminergic. Studying the detailed functioning of these circuits is essential to understanding how their dysfunction can lead to behavioural disorders such as addiction.
Unresolved questions remain about these computational mechanisms, e.g. on the one hand, the exact role of recurrent connections within the learning circuit and, on the other, the signalling pathways downstream of dopaminergic signals that determine plasticity. At a more integrative level, we also need to understand how localised plasticity impacts future choices. We are studying these questions in the associative circuitry of the larval brain of Drosophila melanogaster using a multi-scale approach combining behaviour, neurogenetics, mathematical modelling and in vivo imaging.