Influence of high-sugar diet on brain and behavior

The student will develop behavioral paradigms and new analyses based on the existing set ups in the lab (automated video-tracking, automated behavioral detection, quantitative behavioral analysis), by using both his/her ideas and existing protocols in the literature. This internship is also an opportunity to discover the Drosophila model, learn its advantages and other techniques used in the lab from Drosophula genetics to connectomics and functional imaging. The candidate will work in the team Neural Circuits and Behavior headed by Tihana Jovanic in Saclay (20 km south of Paris). NeuroPSI has state-of the art core facilities and the Saclay campus provides a highly interdisciplinary and collaborative environment mixing university and engineering schools, with excellent laboratories in fundamental and applied science. There will also be opprotunities for collaboration with the Janelia Research Campus (USA) and Institut Pasteur (Paris, France).

M1 / M2 internships available

Diet influences brain function however the underlying mechanisms are unknown. Given its promising potential in therapeutic use (1,2), it is of outmost importance to understand the mechanisms by which diet affects neural circuit function, and thus cognition and behavior. In order to study the effects of different diets and the resulting internal states on brain function, we use as a model an extensively described neural circuit in the drosophila larva (3,4). This well-known circuit controls the decision between startle and escape behaviors following a mechanical stimulus. Thanks to the refined genetic tools that exist in Drosophila, we can thus monitor the effect of diet on this circuit at all scales, from molecules, to single neuron activity in intact animals, to behavior.
We have recently found that a high-sugar diet changes the decision to startle or escape, as well as neuronal circuit activity. Still, we lack a comprehensive overview of the exact internal state produced by high-sugar feeding. Are larvae lacking amino acids from this diet? Thus, are they in a starvation-like state? Are they attracted or repelled by sugar after spending a long time in contact with it? What are the physiological consequences of this diet on their overall behavior?

We offer an M1 or M2 internship to answer these questions. The student will develop behavioral paradigms and new analyses based on the existing set ups in the lab (automated video-tracking, automated behavioral detection, quantitative behavioral analysis), by using both his/her ideas and existing protocols in the literature. This internship is also an opportunity to discover the Drosophila model, learn its advantages and other techniques used in the lab from Drosophula genetics to connectomics and functional imaging.

KEY PUBLICATIONS

1. Mattson, M. P., Moehl, K., Ghena, N., Schmaedick, M. & Cheng, A. Intermittent metabolic switching, neuroplasticity and brain health. Nat. Rev. Neurosci. 19, 63–80 (2018). 10.1038/nrn.2017.156
2. Adan, R. A. H. et al. Nutritional psychiatry: Towards improving mental health by what you eat. Eur. Neuropsychopharmacol. 29, 1321–1332 (2019). 10.1016/j.euroneuro.2019.10.011
3. Jovanic, T. et al. Competitive Disinhibition Mediates Behavioral Choice and Sequences in Drosophila. Cell 167, 858-870.e19 (2016). 10.1016/j.cell.2016.09.009
4. Masson, J.-B. et al. Identifying neural substrates of competitive interactions and sequence transitions during mechanosensory responses in Drosophila. PLOS Genet. 16, e1008589 (2020). 10.1371/journal.pgen.1008589

Tihana Jovanic - Contact
NeuroPSI Institute in Saclay
Phone +33(0) 1 69 82 34 79

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