Dr. Bettina Schnell

Group Leader, Neurobiology of flight control
Center of Advanced European Studies and Research (caesar)
Ludwig-Erhard-Allee 2, 53175 Bonn, Germany

Phone +49 (0) 228 9656-198



Curriculum vitae Dr. Bettina Schnell

Research Interests

Flight poses a set of unique challenges to an organism. To not get off course or fall from the sky, whenever there is a disturbance, e.g. a gush of wind, flying animals, such as flies, need elaborate and fast stabilizing reflexes. They also need to use precise enough sensory information to orient in and find their way through a complex 3-dimensional world.

My group is interested in how the tiny brain of Drosophila controls such a complex behavior. To answer that question, we make use of recent technological advances, which allow us to measure the activity of single neurons in behaving animals. We can monitor intended steering maneuvers by tracking the motion of the wings in head-fixed flies. In addition, we use the elaborate genetic tool kit available in Drosophila to manipulate the function of specific neurons. Combining all these techniques we aim to identify and study individual neurons that control steering maneuvers during flight, the circuits they are embedded in, and the computations they perform.

5 most important publications

1. Schnell B,Ros I, Dickinson MH. (2017) A descending neuron correlated with the rapid steering maneuvers of flying Drosophila. Current Biology, 27: 1200-1205.

2. Schnell B, Weir PT, Roth E, Fairhall AL, Dickinson MH. (2014) Cellular mechanisms for integral feedback in visually guided behavior. PNAS, 111: 5700-5705.

3. Schnell B, Raghu SV, Nern A, Borst A. (2012) Columnar cells necessary for motion responses of wide-field visual interneurons in Drosophila. J. Comp. Physiol. A., 198: 389-395.

4. Joesch M, Schnell B, Raghu SV, Reiff DF, Borst A. ON and OFF pathways in Drosophila motion vision. (2010) Nature, 486: 300-304.

5. Schnell B, Joesch M, Foerstner F, Raghu SV, Otsuna H, Ito K, Borst A, Reiff DF. (2010) Processing of horizontal optic flow in three visual interneurons of the Drosophila brain. J. Neurophysiol., 103: 1646-1657.