Wednesday, September 21, 2022 - 6:30pm to 7:45pm

How do genes and the environment interact to generate a variety of behaviors? How are behavioral decisions modified by context and experience? Neuroscience has reached a stage where these questions can be asked with great precision, and, in some cases, answered. The goal is an integrated view of the brain – what specific molecules, neurons, and circuits do across time, and what functions arise at each level of analysis. The Bargmann lab has studied these questions in the nematode C. elegans, whose simple nervous system consists of only 302 neurons – yet the animal can move around, explore the environment, evaluate its social context, and learn from experience. Using both classical neuroscience approaches and new tools that have emerged in the past two decades, we have learned how sensory neurons evaluate stimuli, how integrating neurons combine sensory inputs, and how groups of integrating neurons coordinate their activity to guide behavior.

Animal and human behavior is not fixed, but is reversibly modified by internal motivational and emotional states. At the heart of these internal states are chemical neuromodulators such as serotonin, dopamine, and neuropeptides. Neuromodulators are highly conserved in evolution, with recognizable similar functions in different animals. By studying molecules like serotonin and oxytocin in C. elegans, we have determined how they transiently rewire the functional properties of the nervous system, allowing internal states to alter spontaneous and sensory behaviors.

Dr. Cori Bargmann:  Professor at The Rockefeller University, Torsten N. Wiesel Professor of Genetics and Genomics, Neurosciences and Behavior; 2012 Kavli Prize Laureate in Neuroscience

Bargmann will share her research in conversation with Emmy Award-winning journalist Frank Sesno, the Director of Strategic Initiatives at George Washington University's School of Media and Public Affairs.

Co-hosted by the Carnegie Institution for Science with The Kavli Foundation, the Royal Embassy of Norway, and the Norwegian Academy of Science and LettersThe Kavli Prize is a partnership between The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, The Kavli Foundation (United States), and The Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research.

Photo Credit: The Rockefeller University 

***This lecture is an in-person only event. The lecture will not be streamed live or recorded.***

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) requires that visitors to NAS facilities provide proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 (as defined by the most current CDC Guidance). Visitors must show their official COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card (or a digital photo of the card) to the security staff. A visitor's vaccination information will not be recorded or stored by the NAS.​