How and why do brains evolve? We are interested in the evolution of sensory neural codes and in investigating the constraints involved in modifying neural circuits that underlie behavior.
At what levels of the neural substrate has evolution acted to transform and reorganize neural circuits in response to environmental challenges? What are the physical and temporal (developmental) constraints for these processes?
These are very broad questions and little is known about the mechanisms involved into changing one neural circuit into another. One approach is the use of comparative studies, especially the study of closely related forms that appear to be undergoing speciation. Comparative studies of such species will point to shared computational strategies, and suggest forces that work on the selection ofcoding.
We expect that changes occur in many levels of a neural circuit as a response to environmental changes
.In our lab we aim to probe the neural substrate in search of evolutionary plasticity. We use 3 different animals models to study of the evolution of coding: the teleost Astyanax mexicanus, the teleost Astatotilapia burtoni and Aligator mississipiensis. Our research includes behavioral, neurophysiological and anatomical studies.