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Raymond Leo Erikson Life Sciences Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology

Venkatesh Murthy

Raymond Leo Erikson Life Sciences Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology

Director of the Center for Brain Science


Algorithms and Neural Circuits in Olfaction: We are interested in understanding the neural and algorithmic basis of odor-guided behaviors in terrestrial animals. To this end, we have developed behavioral tasks in mice using stimuli and situations that approximate natural settings, while allowing electrophysiological recordings, high-resolution optical imaging and optogenetic manipulation. We record neural activity in behaving mice using electro- or opto-physiological methods and relate them to behavioral features. Where possible, we also examine the neural circuits to understand how their architecture gives rise to the neural activity observed in behaving animals. Finally, we are also interested in understanding how neural circuits in the olfactory system are modified by behavioral state, experience and learning. Although we are primarily an experimental group, we collaborate extensively with theorists to seek normative and parsimonious explanations for our neural and behavioral observations.

Selected Publications

  1. Reddy G, Zak JD, Vergassola M, Murthy VN. 2018. Antagonism in olfactory receptor neurons and its implications for the perception of odor mixtures. eLife. 7. pii: e34958. doi: 10.7554/eLife.34958.
  2. Mathis A, Mamidanna P, Cury KM, Abe T, Murthy VN, Mathis MW, Bethge M. 2018. DeepLabCut: markerless pose estimation of user-defined body parts with deep learning. Nat Neurosci. 21(9):1281-1289. doi: 10.1038/s41593-018-0209-y.
  3. Draft RW, McGill MR, Kapoor V, Murthy VN. 2018. Carpenter ants use diverse antennae sampling strategies to track odor trails. J Exp Biol. 221(Pt 22).pii: jeb185124. doi: 10.1242/jeb.185124.
  4. Wallace JL, Wienisch M, Murthy VN. Development and refinement of functional properties of adult-born neurons. 2017. Neuron. 96(4):883-896.e7. doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2017.09.039.
  5. Mathis A, Rokni D, Kapoor V, Bethge M, Murthy VN. 2016. Reading out olfactory receptors: feedforward circuits detect odors in mixtures without demixing. Neuron. 91(5):1110-1123. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2016.08.007.