The Naumann lab, in the Department of Neurobiology at Duke University, is interested in how large collaborative neural circuits in the brain give rise to individual behavior. As even genetically identical individuals can differ in how they respond to the outside world, we are interested in how precisely the neural circuits underlying sensorimotor transformations of individuals form, develop and function. To address these issues we are combining the remarkable zebrafish as a genetically accessible vertebrate model system with innovative technologies in behavior monitoring, whole-brain imaging, optogenetics and computational modeling and machine learning. The central goal of this research is to use ever-growing availability of data about each individual to start understanding the basic neural mechanisms of personality.
The time is ripe to study the neurobiology of each individual
Optomotor response idiosyncrasy
Neural circuit models that motivate specific connectivity based on average data may lead to over-interpretations in which best-fit models do not represent real neural implementations in individual animals. We are interested in how visually evoked behavioral idiosyncrasies manifest in underlying neural circuit architectures.
Motivational states, such as arousal, sleep, fear, and hunger, affect stimulus sensitivity and influence behavior. We aim to reveal how neuromodulators can flexibly alter activity in well-defined neural circuits to affect behavior and behavioral idiosyncrasy.
With longitudinal assays of behavior and neural activity, we plan to build a better understanding of how genotype and environment interact to shape neural circuits and behavior.