I develop mathematical models and computer simulations to investigate how algorithms may be implemented by neurons in brains. I focus on the brains of insects, and, in particular, the pesky fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster), which is studied by many scientists out there because of the huge arsenal of genetic tools available for fruit flies. With these tools, experimenters are able to precisely identify and control single neurons, and consequently modify the fly's behaviour. I use the data obtained by the experimenters to help constrain my models, and I use my models to make predictions about the fly brain for experimenters to test. Details about the research projects I have worked on, and am currently working on, are provided below.

I currently work with Prof. Thomas Nowotny as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Sussex, and am a member of the EPSRC funded Brains-on-Board project. In this project, I am investigating how insects learn to evaluate options and make decisions when navigating and foraging.

Pattern formation and travelling wave activity patterns in the developing mammalian visual system

(My PhD at the University of Oxford)Paper in PLoS Comp. Biol.My PhD Thesis
Travelling wave activity patterns are prevalent in the developing brain, and there is good evidence that the specific spatiotemporal structure they exhibit helps to instruct the refinement of neural circuits as the brain grows. This work explored how this might come about via an interaction between the travelling wave activity and spike-timing dependent plasticity, a phenomenon that describes how connections between neurons change strength. We showed that this interaction can lead to the formation of periodic spatial patterns in feedforward circuits in a manner analogous to reaction diffusion systems. We derived a mathematical expression for the synaptic strength dynamics, and consequently showed how the spatial frequency of the pattern is determined by several factors such as the wave speed and the time constants for plasticity. We then demonstrated how this process of pattern formation may be useful for shaping and refining receptive fields in the visual system, and the advantages it has for the formation of direction selective simple cells in V1.

Learning accurate reward predictions with reward prediction errors in the fruit fly brain

Learning and forgetting from the perspective of control

Balance in the fruit fly brain for perception and learning