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Thursday, March 29, 2007.
Towards an integrative theory of memory: How flies, flip-flops, and physics can help us understand the workings of a fundamental neural process
11:00- 12:00 pm , 102 VanderWerf
Dan Valente , Ph.D.
Research on simple invertebrate organisms, such as the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, has begun to uncover some of the gentic and the neural processes involved im memory. This work has greatly elucidated the gene/brain/behavior interaction, and there exists now both a need and an opportunity to integrate these networkds into a single, overarching description of memory. Creating such a multi-scale model is no trivial task, however, and it quickly becomes apparent that an interdisciplinary approach can be an effective way to tackle such a complex problem.
In this lecture, I will present an overview of memory research in fruit flies and discuss our attempts at using an engineering approach to complement the psychological and molecular genetic studies of memory. This view combines engineering theories (control theory, communication theory, computation theory, etc.) with the underlying biology to develp a working model for how events are sensed, how this information is processed, stored, and finally, how the behavior is actuated. I will discuss experiments that are being performed to probe each scale with the hope of uncovering the strategiesand algorithms at work in memory storage and retrieval.