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Fundamental Themes in Neurosciences - David Anderson

April 9, 2015 - 2:00pm to 3:00pm
Clark Center Auditorium


The Neural Circuitry of Sex and Violence



David Anderson, Ph.D. Professor, Biology, Division of Biology and Biological Engineering, California institute of Technology Institute and Investigator, HHMI



Host: Tom Sudhof



Animals often have to make rapid decisions between different, competing behaviors, such as fighting, mating, or freezing.  These decisions are controlled by sensory cues, the animal's internal state and its previous history.  In humans, these innate behaviors are associated with emotion states such as fear, anger and love.  We are studying the control of aggression vs. mating, in both mice and fruit flies, as a model for understanding how internal states, such as arousal or other so-called "emotion primitives," influence decisions between innate behaviors. This talk will focus on how aggression circuits are organized in the brain, and their relationship to circuits that control mating behavior.  Our studies have revealed that mice and flies contain "modules" (relatively small groups of neurons) that control both aggression and mating, suggesting that this is an evolutionarily ancient circuit "motif." The role of these modules, and their relationship to decision-making and internal brain states, will be discussed.  The long-term objective of these studies is to provide insights into the brain mechanisms that link emotion and decision-making, and their evolutionary origins.

Event Sponsor: 
Stanford Neurosciences Institute
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