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 Adam J Calhoun

general research aims

I care about how groups of neurons talk to each other to form a circuit that produces interesting behavior.
I care about what computations these circuits are performing, and how modulators change these computations.
I care about the theory underlying circuits and behaviors: why do we see this and not something else? And what are the fundamental scientific principles that are being observed?

how do animals communicate?

I investigate how animals communicate with each other in order to achieve their goals. To do this, I use the fruit fly Drosophila, a teeny tiny little animal that sings. When a male loves a female very much, he will sing her and court her; if the song is good enough, the female will allow the male to mate with her. What is it about the song that she likes? Why sing at all? How do animals haggle to come to a mutually agreeable decision?
I am interested in how the nervous system implements these goals and choices.

how do animals search?

How should an animal search for food? Foraging is one of the most fundamental actions that all animals perform. Just think about the last time you had to go looking for your keys. First you go look at your desk - nope, not there. Then you look on the table - not there either. Then you spend some time digging through your pocket and realize they were there the whole time. This is foraging.
Foraging is an especially interesting problem because animals usually do not have complete information about the world. Is there even food at there at all? I want to understand what is the best way to make these search decisions and how the nervous system is programmed to so.