Toshihiro Kitamoto, Ph.D.
How does the nervous system control complex behavior? How do experience and genetic variation modify it? The goal of our research is to answer these fundamental questions in neuroscience. We use the fruitfly, Drosophila melanogaster as an experimental animal, and integrate knowledge of the nervous system at the molecular, cellular, systemic and whole animal levels. The current focus is on male courtship behavior. This behavior consists of a highly stereotypical sequence of activities that are genetically determined, but also shows considerable experience-dependent plasticity called \"courtship conditioning\". By examining the behavior of various genetic variants, we study the function of particular genes in different aspects of courtship. In addition, using a recently developed strategy that allows one to perturb synaptic transmission rapidly and reversibly in a spatially restricted manner in intact animals, we investigate the significance of particular neuronal subsets in sexual orientation, courtship initiation, and courtship memory. Our multidisciplinary research is expected to provide new insights into the basic mechanisms underlying higher-order brain functions that control complex behavior.
- Nervous System and Genetic Variation