Neuronal mechanisms of behavioral transitions from whole brain activity maps and synaptic connectivity maps

Every animal reacts to its environment in an appropriate manner. It constantly switches between different actions to ensure the survival. The behavioral choices are mediated by multiple and distributed neuronal circuits in the brain. In order to understand the neuronal mechanism in its complexity on whole circuit level and single cell resolution, we need to monitor the neuronal activity of each single cell in the brain and link it with its synaptic connectivity.

Two main problems are address: 1) Developing the required steps to combine functional and structural datasets. 2) Identifying behavior and behavioral transition specific neuronal circuit elements and their implementation in the connectome.

We implemented the methodology. It was applied studying the circuit mechanism of action selection in the fly larva. Specific brain regions and neurons for state-dependency, and promoting and maintaining actions were identified. Answering those questions will provide us with a better understanding of how the brain can integrate information and make appropriate behavioral choices.

The methodology can be applied in small model organisms and the techniques and developed tools can be adapted individually to other model organism and research question. Therefore, it is a broad platform for other neuroscientists to develop circuit related research questions on the foundation of connectomics.