"All abuzz with the excitement of empirical endeavor"
This Friday, at 3pm in room 302, to acknowledge the stupendous NSW victory in the State of Origin, we have decided to have Bruno van Swinderen from the QBI come over and talk to us about insects. And not just any insects, but flies with a cognitive capacity that puts a good proportion of the undergraduate populace to shame. The talk will be titled "Fly Psychology"
The ability to attend to one percept at a time while suppressing competing stimuli is likely to be an ancient capacity in brain evolution. Yet, attention is difficult to demonstrate in any non-human animal, and this is especially true for simple animals such as insects. The best behavioural evidence for attention-like processes in insects such as flies has been found in the closed-loop, tethered flight arena paradigm, where short-term behavioural processes could be correlated to competing visual effects. However, a genetic approach to understanding attention-like mechanisms in the fruit fly model has never been possible due to the complicated nature of this paradigm. We have developed a simpler behavioural approach to investigating visual perception and attention-like processes in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, matched by electrophysiological paradigms for measuring neural correlates of visual attention in the fly brain. These paradigms in a genetic model allow for a systematic dissection of mechanisms subserving phenomena such as visual attention and perception in a small brain.
Swindern's Lovebird is a small parrot in the genus Agapornis found in equatorial Africa, inhabiting forests in Cameroon, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is named in after Professor Theodore van Swinderen of the University of Groningen. To the best of my knowledge, this has very little to do with Bruno van Swinderen, even though Bruno was born in Nairobi,