Illinois State Assistant Professor Wolfgang Stein will present “The Beauty and the Beast(s): Ubiquitous Modulation and Misbehaving Neurons” as part of the School of Biological Sciences Seminar Series.

When: 4 p.m. Thursday, October 23
Where: 210 Moulton Hall

Here is an abstract of his presentation:

Neuromodulation underlies the flexibility of neural circuit operation and behavior by reconfiguring neural circuits, often massively altering their output. Because neuromodulators can simultaneously target multiple physiological mechanisms in many neurons within a connected network, our understanding of their function on networks has progressed furthest in small systems such as invertebrate central pattern generator networks. These networks exhibit spontaneous rhythmic activity that drives behaviors such as chewing, breathing, and locomotion. Their known circuitry has allowed the systematic exploration of how neuromodulatory substances and the neurons that release them can influence circuit function, modify sensorimotor processing and counterbalance environmental challenges. Our goal is to determine the role of neuromodulators in regulating neuronal activity and information encoding, and to examine the mechanisms underlying neuromodulator actions. We are interested in both the function of neuromodulator release in the selection of adequate motor patterns and the behaviors and their consequences for stability and robustness of neuronal activity. Using the stomatogastric nervous system of the crab as a model, we employ intra- and extra-cellular neural recordings, cell-specific optical imaging, immunocytochemistry, and computational modeling to address these issues.