High-order processing in a miniature brain - Visual learning and processing in the honeybee brain Ph.D project, RIFFELL LAB
Insects possess miniature brains but exhibit incredibly sophisticated behavior. Foraging honeybees, for example, are able to categorize, count and extract abstract rules (e.g. sameness vs. difference), using a brain that contains only a million of neurons, among them 170,000 in each mushroom body, the center of high-order processing, learning and memory. How is this remarkable complexity encoded is such a small brain? To address this knowledge gap, we have created a virtual reality environment surrounding a locomotion compensator that allows complex learning in tethered behaving bees while simultaneously recording from their brain.
Advisor: Prof. Jeffrey A. Riffell (Riffell Lab, UW, USA) Past and Present Collaborators: Prof. Clément Vinauger (Vinauger Lab, VA, USA) Prof. Eatai Roth (Roth Lab, IN, USA) Dr. Angelique Paulk (Eskandar Lab, Harvard Medical School, USA) Prof. Nathan Kutz (Kutz research group, UW, USA) Prof. Martin Giurfa (CRCA, FR) Prof. Lars Chittka (Queen University, UK)
Fundings obtained during my Ph.D:
-2020: Hall International Fellowship, Department of Biology -2019: Robin Mariko Harrid Graduate Fellowship in Insect Studies and Lynn Riddiford and James Truman Endowed Fellowship, Department of Biology -2016-2018: University of Washington Institute of Neuroengineering Fellowship -2017, 2018: Robin Mariko Harris research award, Department of Biology
-2018: Grass Foundation -Neural System and Behavior Course (Marine Biology Laboratory, Woods Hole, USA) - 2018: NIH Grant: Scholarship funds as financial support for the course Neural System and Behavior (Marine Biology Laboratory, Woods Hole, USA)
Social facilitation of memory retrieval in the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster
Master thesis project, Research Centre on Animal Cognition
Drosophila is a well-established model for the study of learning and memory. Using an olfactory aversive learning paradigm, earlier work has demonstrated that the performance of conditioned individuals was improved in presence of trained, but not naïve, flies. For my Master Thesis, I was interested in understanding better the mechanisms and modalities of this facilitation using pharmacological and genetic tools.
Under the supervision of Dr. Guillaume Isabel (TEAM EXPLAIN) and Dr. Raphaël Jeanson (TEAM VIP) in the Research Centre on Animal Cognition (UPS, Toulouse, France)
Collective motion in sheep, Ovis aries
Undergraduate project, Research Centre on Animal Cognition
For this undergraduate project, I participate to the analysis of collective motion in groups of sheep. Broadly, this project intended to study whether behavioral and physiological plasticity is equally shared in sheep as a function of group size, i.e. to what extent individuals change their behavioral pattern through allelomimetic behavior.
Under the supervision of Dr. Richard Bon (TEAM CAB ) in the Research Centre on Animal Cognition (UPS, Toulouse, France)