Animals have evolved a diversity of behaviors critical to their survival and reproduction, including the ability to forage for food, evade predators, communicate with others, and choose mating partners. In the Neurobiology and Behavior research group we study the neural mechanisms underlying these and other behaviors, how both brain and behavior are shaped by genetics, development, experience, and phylogenetic history, and what contributes to their dysfunction in disease. We hold weekly seminars where students and faculty present data and discuss recent papers in neuroethology and systems neuroscience.
Joseph Dent, Associate Professor
Office: Stewart Biology, N4/7A | Email: joseph.dent [at] mcgill.ca
We study the molecular genetics of behaviour and drug sensitivity in the roundworm C. elegans. We are interested the structure, function and evolution of ligand-gated ion channels, how they contribute to behavioural circuits and how they confer sensitivity to antiparasitic drugs. We also use C. elegans as a model to understand the evolution of drug resistance in multicellular parasites.
Michael Hendricks, Associate Professor
Office: Stewart Biology, N5/11 | Email: michael.hendricks [at] mcgill.ca
We study the relationship between neural circuits and behaviour in the nematode Caenohrabditis elegans. We are particularly interested in how sensory perception is integrated with ongoing behaviour during navigation, plasticity and variation in foraging strategies, and the effects of developmental stress on the development of adult behaviour.
Tomoko Ohyama, Assistant Professor
Office: Stewart Biology, N5/25 | Email: tomoko.ohyama [at] mcgill.ca
To adapt successfully to the environment, animals must execute the most appropriate action in a given circumstance from among many potential behavioral options. How is sensory information processed to generate specific behaviour? We use Drosophila to study how animals select the specific actions at level of circuit, neurons, molecules and genes.
Jon Sakata, Associate Professor
Office: Stewart Biology, N4/8 | Email: jon.sakata [at] mcgill.ca
Many vertebrates use acoustic signals to communicate. However, only a handful of species, including songbirds and humans, learn communication signals during development. My lab integrates neurochemical, molecular, and computational approaches to reveal biological mechanisms underlying the acquisition and control of vocal communication. We are interested in revealing how social interactions and neuromodulators regulate the extent, trajectory, and diversity of vocal learning.
Alanna Watt, Associate Professor
Office: Bellini Life Sciences, 265 | Email: alanna.watt [at] mcgill.ca
The Watt lab is focused on understanding how brain circuits develop and are modified throughout a lifespan in both healthy brains and in animal models of neurodegenerative diseases. We use a battery of experimental approaches to address these questions, including electrophysiology, imaging, transgenic and viral activity manipulations, and behaviour.
Sarah Woolley, Associate Professor
Office: Stewart Biology, N4/8 | Email: sarah.woolley [at] mcgill.ca
We study the neural basis of auditory learning and preference in songbirds. Songbirds use learned songs in communication to identify individuals and select mates. My lab investigates how auditory and social experiences throughout the lifespan shape song perception, with a particular interest in the role of dopamine in modulating auditory plasticity and experience-dependent changes to song preference.