Venkatesh Murthy, PhD
Raymond Leo Erikson Life Sciences Professor of Molecular & Cellular Biology, Harvard University
Co-Director, Harvard Brain Science Initiative
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.