Vikas Bhandawat, Assistant Professor  

Vikas Bhandawat

THE GOAL: A major goal in neuroscience is to understand how neural circuits represent sensory information or guide behavior. Because of the complexity of our nervous system it is often difficult to pinpoint the neurons that participate in a given task. Our overall aim is to map out “complete circuits” underlying simple and complex behaviors and understand neural computations with a knowledge of this complete circuit in hand. APPROACH: We will focus on the relatively simple brain of Drosophila to attack this problem. The fly’s brain can perform a surprisingly diverse array of behaviors with relatively few neurons (~100000). In particular, the olfactory circuit of Drosophila is uniquely appropriate for studying this question because its anatomical organization makes it possible to quantify the pool of neurons activated by a given stimulus. This anatomical simplification occurs because for each odorant receptor gene (there are ~50 in flies), there is an identifiable first-order neuron and an identifiable second-order neuron.We have a nearly complete picture of odor representation at the level of olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs). Basic principles underlying the transformation of odor responses from ORNs-to-PNs are also understood. Because of this groundwork, odors (stimuli) can readily be mapped onto patterns of ORNs and PNs. TECHNIQUES: We use single-cell recordings from neurons in the fly brain to understand neural computations. We have also developed behavioral paradigms to make quantitative assessment of flies’ behavioral output. We will complement these relatively new techniques with molecular genetics in the fly.

Education:
PhD, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, 2005
Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University, 2004
M.S. in Chemistry, Indian Institute of Technology, 1999

Office Location: 225 Biological Sciences Bldg, Durham, NC 27708
Office Phone: (919) 684-1703
Email Address: bhandawat@gmail.com
Web Page: http://biology.duke.edu/bhandawatlab/
Additional Web Page: http://biology.duke.edu/bhandawatlab/

Specialties:
Neuroscience
Organismal Biology and Behavior

Research Categories: Drosophila olfaction

Research Description: THE GOAL: A major goal in neuroscience is to understand how neural circuits represent sensory information or guide behavior. Because of the complexity of our nervous system it is often difficult to pinpoint the neurons that participate in a given task. Our overall aim is to map out “complete circuits” underlying simple and complex behaviors and understand neural computations with a knowledge of this complete circuit in hand. APPROACH: We will focus on the relatively simple brain of Drosophila to attack this problem. The fly’s brain can perform a surprisingly diverse array of behaviors with relatively few neurons (~100000). In particular, the olfactory circuit of Drosophila is uniquely appropriate for studying this question because its anatomical organization makes it possible to quantify the pool of neurons activated by a given stimulus. This anatomical simplification occurs because for each odorant receptor gene (there are ~50 in flies), there is an identifiable first-order neuron and an identifiable second-order neuron.We have a nearly complete picture of odor representation at the level of olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs). Basic principles underlying the transformation of odor responses from ORNs-to-PNs are also understood. Because of this groundwork, odors (stimuli) can readily be mapped onto patterns of ORNs and PNs. TECHNIQUES: We use single-cell recordings from neurons in the fly brain to understand neural computations. We have also developed behavioral paradigms to make quantitative assessment of flies’ behavioral output. We will complement these relatively new techniques with molecular genetics in the fly.

Areas of Interest:
Neurobiology

Recent Publications   (More Publications)   (search)

  1. K Tschida and V Bhandawat, Activity in descending dopaminergic neurons represents but is not required for leg movements in the fruit fly Drosophila., Physiological reports, vol. 3 no. 3 (March, 2015) [repository], [doi]  [abs].
  2. SH Jung, C Hueston and V Bhandawat, Odor-identity dependent motor programs underlie behavioral responses to odors., eLife, vol. 4 (January, 2015) [doi]  [abs].
  3. V Bhandawat, G Maimon, MH Dickinson and RI Wilson, Olfactory modulation of flight in Drosophila is sensitive, selective and rapid., J Exp Biol, vol. 213 no. Pt 21 (November, 2010), pp. 3625-3635 [20952610], [doi]  [abs].
  4. V Bhandawat, J Reisert, KW Yau, Signaling by olfactory receptor neurons near threshold., Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 107 no. 43 (October, 2010), pp. 18682-7 [doi]  [abs].
  5. V Bhandawat, J Reisert and KW Yau, Signaling by olfactory receptor neurons near threshold., Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, vol. 107 no. 43 (October, 2010), pp. 18682-18687 [20930117], [doi]  [abs].