The neural circuits of the fly's olfactory memory

Seminar | April 30 | 2-3 p.m. | 540 Cory Hall

 Lou Scheffer, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

 Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences (EECS)

The fruit fly Drosophila will avoid odors previously associated with unpleasant experiences, and pursue odors previously associated with rewards. It has long been known that the seat of this associative learning is the Mushroom Body, a particular compartment of the fly's brain. Using a combination of genetic methods, behavioral experiments, electrophysiology, and circuit reconstruction (through analysis of electron microscope images), we have been attempting to explain how these memories are formed, stored, and acted upon. Though some details are still not understood, we are rapidly approaching a fully explicit description of how this memory system works in the fly.

About the speaker: Lou Scheffer received his BS and MS degrees in EE from Caltech, and a PhD. In 1983 from Stanford University. Professionally, he performed IC design for HP, followed by IC CAD software development at HP, then Valid, then Cadence. During this time he was an editor of the IEEE Transactions on CAD, a member of the Board of Governors of the IEEE, and program, technical and general chair of the conferences ICCAD, TAU, ISPD, and SLIP. In 2008, Lou switched fields to biology, where he now studies the structure and function of the brain. Working at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Lou is part of an effort using electron microscopy to reconstruct the detailed structure and function of the brain, starting with the fruit fly, Drosophila. Lou is the author of numerous papers on EE, physics, SETI, and biology, the author of two books, and holds 35 patents.