Dopaminergic control of action selection


Voluntary behavior requires the selection and maintenance of actions and their organization into action sequences. This action selection process involves evolutionary conserved dopamine D1 and D2 receptor pathways in the central brain of insects and vertebrates that show concurrent activity during behavioral sequences. Thus far, however, the in vivo mechanisms and neural computations underlying action selection remain elusive.  This project will use a combination of computational modeling and optogenetic in vivo manipulation to test the hypotheses whether a population code of D1/D2 expressing neurons and their temporal order of activity specify motor actions and their organization into behavioural sequences.


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Strausfeld NJ & Hirth F (2013) Deep homology of arthropod central complex and vertebrate basal ganglia. Science 340:157-161.


Fiore VG, Dolan RJ, Strausfeld NJ, Hirth F (2015) Evolutionarily conserved mechanisms for the selection and maintenance of behavioural activity. Phil Trans R Soc B 370:20150053


Friend DM, Kravitz AV (2014) Working together: basal ganglia pathways in action selection. Trends Neurosci 37:301-303.


Owald D, Lin S, Waddell S (2015) Light, heat, action: neural control of fruit fly behaviour. Phil Trans R Soc B 370:20140211.

Biological Areas:



Animal disease, health and welfare