Misha Ahrens

Group Leader

My lab focuses on mechanisms by which the nervous system enables animals to adapt to changing and challenging environments. We take a holistic view of neuroscience and study how large collections of interconnected cells - neurons and glia spanning the entire brain - work together to make animals navigate, make choices, and learn. In the spirit of the new 4DCP direction, we have broadened our scientific vision: where we previously focused on the brain and behavior, we now expand our efforts to the rest of the body. Organ systems throughout an animal are in constant communication with its brain, as is clear from the fact that hunger can influence complex decisions, and mental predictions of impending danger accelerate the beating heart. Despite the historic separation between the study of cognition and of the autonomic nervous system and organ physiology, these are often-inseparable components of one body-wide network that feed-back upon each other and need to be understood as a whole. Using the optical accessibility of zebrafish together with molecular biology, microscopy, and theory, we aim for new discoveries in organism-wide physiology. 

See Ahrens Lab website