Neurons, Circuits, Behavior and Evolution

Please note amended date and time.

In this seminar, I will examine issues concerning the make up and function of nervous systems at three different levels. In the first, I will touch upon the evolution of neuronal identity among amniotes, relying on single-cell RNA seq data. In the second, I will describe the unexpected convergence of sleep, mesencephalic isthmus, telencephalic claustrum and inter-hemispheric competition using electrophysiological studies in a lizard. And in the third, I will touch upon texture perception and matching in a cephalopod, using quantitative behavioral methods. These three examples are meant to illustrate the value of modern comparative approaches in neuroscience.


Gilles Laurent is a Director at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research in Frankfurt (Germany). Until 2009, he was the Lawrence Hansson Professor of Biology at the California Institute of Technology (Pasadena, CA), whose faculty he joined in 1990. He was a postdoctoral fellow and Locke Research Fellow of the Royal Society at the University of Cambridge from 1985 to 1990. Gilles Laurent’s interests are centred on identifying principles of brain operations, often through comparative approaches. He has worked on olfactory computation in insects, fish and rodents, and on motor control, local circuits, and vision in insects. His present research concerns sleep (in reptiles), vertebrate brain evolution, and texture perception and generation (in cephalopods). The theme that binds these diverse topics is the dynamics of neuronal circuits.