We investigate information processing during visually guided behaviors in invertebrate species. The Wardill Lab studies how relevant information is extracted from visual scenes and used for appropriate behaviour. For example, what are the general principles that neurons use for extracting motion, colour, shape and polarization. The lab aims to understand the neural basis for dynamic skin signalling in cephalopods and visual feature extraction in flies.
We use the model animal, Drosophila melanogaster to identify visual circuit components and then apply the knowledge gained (from genetic, physiology and behavioral experiments) to locate analogous circuits in other fly species, such as Spotted Wing Drosophila (Drosophila suzukii) and Killer flies (Coenosia attenuata). Taking this comparative approach allows us to reveal general principles of circuit function.
The lab also investigates how cephalopods detect and express various forms of signals on their skin (movement, colour, pattern, polarization, and 3D shapes). This research is currently in collaboration with Roger Hanlon at the Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA, USA. The lab uses advanced methods in genetics, 2-photon imaging and behavioral quantification and are seeking interest from PhD students.