Department of Computer Science at UH

University of Houston

Department of Computer Science

In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of
Doctor of Philosophy

Benjamin Soibam

Will give a preliminary defense of his dissertation

Behavioral Analysis of exploration in Drosophila using open field arenas


Exploratory behaviors are the acts and postures which allow an animal to gather information about a novel environment. Animal locomotion, during exploration, contains a significant level of stochasticity and hence deducing the rules underlying motion become non-trivial tasks. The goal of our work is to outline an approach that combines experimental data and phenomenological modeling, to attain these goals..

We construct a synthetic animal whose locomotion depends on directional persistence and an attraction to walls in its neighborhood. This animal is not centrophobic, has no intrinsic affinity for corners, and has no preference between internal and external walls. How does its locomotion compare with that of Drosophila? Rather interestingly, as we infer by comparing their motions within several types of arenas, the statistical features of the motion of both animals appear to be identical.

We will further present data in which we model the time-dependent components of exploration using a stochastic differential equation, where the drift and noise terms can be entirely estimated from directional persistence and the activity of the fly.

Future work will include characterizing locomotive behavior of different mutants of Drosophila and understanding parallel exploratory behaviors of multiple Drosophila melanogaster inside open field arenas.

Date: Monday, May 25, 2011
Time: 1:00 PM
Place: 550-PGH
Faculty, students, and the general public are invited.
Advisor: Prof. Shishir Shah