Dr. Bettina Schnell

Group Leader
Neurobiology of flight control
Max Planck Institute for Neurobiology of Behavior – caesar
Ludwig-Erhard-Allee 2
53175 Bonn, Germany
Phone: +49 (0) 228 9656 198
Email: bettina.schnell@mpinb.mpg.de

Research Focus

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 those 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.
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