Neuroethology; evolutionary and comparative neurobiology; olfaction; learning and memory.
In arthropods, primary sensory brain areas project to higher-order centers, such as connections from olfactory glomeruli to the mushroom bodies in insects, chelicerates, and myriapods, and from the olfactory lobes to the hemiellipsoid bodies in malacostracan crustaceans. These higher centers integrate visual, olfactory and haptic inputs, and have been described as “learning and memory” neuropils. In my lab, we are investigating how insect and crustacean brains encode salient sensory information in the olfactory lobes and mushroom bodies. Using comparative neuroanatomical and behavioral assays, we examine how these structures have evolved to adapt to various learning behaviors and host-seeking strategies.