Gabrielle Gutierrez - Using the connectome to discover computational hubs in the fly brain

Event Details:

Monday, April 15, 2024
4:00pm to 5:30pm PDT
Event Sponsor
Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute
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Gabrielle Gutierrez

Using the connectome to discover computational hubs in the fly brain

The advent of publicly available connectomes is revolutionizing neuroscience research. The Drosophila connectomes have detailed the locations and strengths of synaptic connections within the fly brain with exquisite specificity - including predictions for the neurotransmitters used at each synapse site. Furthermore, these connectomes contain detailed data for neurons that have not previously been identified or characterized. These datasets have opened up an unprecedented opportunity to discover the elusive neural circuits that are responsible for higher order processing in the brain of the fly. Our study identifies a potential computational hub within the fly connectome. The oviposition inhibitory neurons (oviIN) are a pair of neurons that were previously found to inhibit the oviposition motor sequence. Our initial analysis of the oviIN in the connectome reveals that it is one of the most synaptically connected neurons in the Drosophila brain and that it connects to an unusually large number of distinct cell types. It appears that the oviIN integrate information from many different circuits beyond those that control oviposition; however, the vast majority of oviIN’s synaptic partners are neurons of unknown function. We used the Reduced Network Extremal Ensemble Learning algorithm to perform community detection on the network of oviIN’s direct connections. The resulting cell clusters form highly organized synaptic sites along the abundant arbor of the oviIN, indicating that the algorithm has detected functionally meaningful cell clusters. While the functions of those clusters are currently undetermined, our analyses may contribute experimentally testable hypotheses.

Gabrielle Gutierrez

Columbia University

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Gabrielle Gutierrez is an Assistant Professor at Barnard College and an affiliate of the Center for Theoretical Neuroscience at Columbia University. As a computational/theoretical neuroscientist, her research is focused on modeling neural circuits and developing theories about how they do the computations that enable us to function and to interact with the world around us. Her research has led her to investigate various neuronal systems - from rhythmic pattern generation in the crustacean stomatogastric ganglion to visual processing in the retina. Her current research interests include circadian rhythms and neuronal circuits in the fly brain. 

Gabrielle Gutierrez has a PhD in Neuroscience from Brandeis University. She did her graduate work in Eve Marder’s lab. She received her bachelor's degree from Barnard College where she majored in Physics and minored in Applied Mathematics.

About the Wu Tsai Neuro MBCT Seminar Series 
The Stanford Center for Mind, Brain, Computation and Technology Seminars (MBCT) explores ways in which computational and technical approaches are being used to advance the frontiers of neuroscience. It features speakers from other institutions, Stanford faculty and senior training program trainees. 

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