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Welcome to our research group dedicated to understanding how the brain chooses which information to store as long-term memory. In our daily lives, we encounter a myriad of stimuli, yet only a fraction of these experiences are etched into our long-term memory—a crucial filtering process that prevents cognitive overload and potential mental health issues.

At the heart of our investigation is unraveling the mechanisms by which the brain selects pertinent information for storage while discarding the rest. We delve into two primary processes: memory suppression, which inherently inhibits consolidation by default, and memory gating, which triggers consolidation based on specific excitation thresholds. Central to our inquiry is the exploration of whether positive and negative memories utilize similar mechanisms, and how external and physiological factors such as nutrition, reproduction, sleep, and stress influence this information evaluation and storage.

Our research leverages the remarkable capabilities of Drosophila melanogaster, commonly known as the fruit fly, as a model organism. By harnessing their sophisticated olfactory system in laboratory settings, we train these tiny insects to form both positive and negative odor memories through classical conditioning. Crucially, the fundamental neuronal processes we investigate, including transmitter systems such as serotonin and dopamine, and neuronal signaling cascades like cAMP, PKA, and CREB, are highly conserved in the Drosophila brain.

To dissect the intricate workings of memory consolidation, we employ a multifaceted approach:

Behavior Assays and Classical Conditioning: Our repertoire includes classic memory assays like the t-maze alongside cutting-edge automatic high-throughput apparatuses combined with optogenetics, such as conditioning barrels. Additionally, we develop customized memory assays and utilize video tracking for detailed behavior analysis.

Diverse Behavior Paradigms: Understanding memory formation within various behavioral contexts is vital. Therefore, we employ a range of behavioral assays to explore feeding, sleep, reproduction, and stress-related behaviors.

2-Photon "In Vivo" Imaging: With advanced 2-photon microscopy techniques, we peer deep into the living brain of Drosophila, capturing real-time signals as they learn. Through synchronized behavioral setups, we monitor physiological processes under different conditions, primarily utilizing calcium imaging (GCamP) alongside the activity of second messengers.

Immunohistology: We investigate changes in the brain induced by learning-induced plasticity, focusing on alterations in the composition of synaptic proteins and signaling cascades. By precisely staining synaptic components, we gain insights into cellular and subcellular plasticity adaptations within specific contexts.

Targeted Neuro-genetic, Thermo-genetic, and Opto-genetic Manipulation: Leveraging sophisticated genetic targeting systems, we precisely manipulate neuronal populations or individual neurons within the Drosophila brain, enabling us to dissect the neural circuits underlying memory processes.

Join us as we unravel the mysteries of memory formation and storage, shedding light on the intricate workings of the brain through the lens of the humble fruit fly.