This project addresses the fundamental question: how does the history of sensory experience affect behavioral decision-making? We address this problem in the neuroethological context of mosquito host seeking, in which the presence of thermal and carbon dioxide signals trigger and direct search behavior. This project has several novel aspects. It will quantitatively explore this synergistic stimulus interaction in the context f a natural behavior and develop models for multisensory integration based both on behavioral and neural data. It will address the spatial variations in the statistical structure of olfactory and thermal stimuli through recordings and direct numerical simulations, and examine whether the universal properties of turbulently advected scalar fields can provide sensory evidence for source location and shape neural responses. We will obtain novel neural recordings in response to multiple time-varying inputs. By a developing tethered flight preparation for mosquitoes, we will be able to record neural activity during constrained flight and directly relate sensory neural responses to behavioral outcomes. The results from this project may help in the design of noninvasive mosquito repellents or attractants and so have an impact on disease transmission. The work may also have impact beyond insect physiology in the design of algorithms for novel sensors in the olfactory domain. Additional broader impacts from this project arise from educational and community engagement through interdisciplinary training of undergraduate and graduate students and postdoctoral fellows;active involvement of our research groups in the broader goals of integrated education and research experiences in the areas of Computational Neuroscience and Neural Engineering through new campus-wide initiatives;communication of our results to the community through a wide variety of social media;and participation in outreach activities to teachers and K-12 classrooms.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Research Project (R01)
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Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1)
Program Officer
Sullivan, Susan L
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University of Washington
Schools of Medicine
United States
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Vinauger, Clément; Lutz, Eleanor K; Riffell, Jeffrey A (2014) Olfactory learning and memory in the disease vector mosquito Aedes aegypti. J Exp Biol 217:2321-30
Fairhall, Adrienne (2014) The receptive field is dead. Long live the receptive field? Curr Opin Neurobiol 25:ix-xii