Abstract: Series 107, Lecture 1

The Harvey Lectures Series 107 (2011—2012)

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Lecture #1: Thursday, October 20, 2011 — Time and Location

Genetic Dissection of Aggression Circuitry in Flies and Mice

David J Anderson, PhD

David J Anderson, PhD

Professor of Biology
Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Howard Hughes Medical Institute, California Institute of Technology

Pasadena, California

Dr Anderson's Website

Aggression is an innate social behavior whose neural circuit basis is poorly understood. We have begun to investigate the circuits controlling inter-male aggressive behavior, using both Drosophila melanogaster and the mouse as model systems. Our work in flies has focused on the following questions: (1) how is aggression controlled by genetic vs. environmental influences? (2) How is aggression controlled by chemosensory signals? (3) Are there central “command” circuits dedicated to aggressive behavior? Half a century of research in cats, rats and hamsters has shown that certain regions of the hypothalamus can elicit attack behavior when artificially stimulated, but an understanding of vertebrate aggression circuitry at a cellular level of resolution remains elusive. We have carried out experiments combining electrophysiology and genetically based manipulations aimed at elucidating the neural circuits mediating aggression in mice, and their relationship to circuits involved in reproductive behavior.