Schreiner University Presents The Harry Crate Lecture Series

The Harry Crate Lecture Series

Neuroscience of Decision-Makingfeaturing Dr. Sarah Wasserman

Kerrville, TX –Schreiner University is proud to welcome Dr. Sarah Wasserman to The Harry Crate Lecture Series on Mar 9, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the Floyd and Kathleen Cailloux Campus Activity Center Ballrooms. This is a free event and the public is encouraged to attend.

The Harry Crate Lecture Series is named in memory of Harry Crate, a former Schreiner University Math and Engineering Professor, who was known for his love of discussing science and technology with students and faculty.

From the moment we wake up in the morning until the moment we fall asleep we are constantly barraged with sensory stimuli. The smell of coffee, the buzzing of the alarm, the dinging of email alerts, yet somehow, we identify the salient sensory stimuli and ignore the rest in order to generate an appropriate behavioral response each moment. Which stimuli we identify to be salient could depend on additional factors such as our external and internal environments. For example, after a good night’s sleep, coffee might not be considered a salient stimulus. If, however, you were a physician on call all evening, the smell of coffee might become highly salient the very next day. In other words, adaptive behavior requires the ability to (1) discriminate salient sensory stimuli from background noise, (2) assign valence (attractive or aversive value) to salient sensory stimuli, (3) integrate environmental and internal physiological state, and (4) generate appropriate behavioral output.

Although we and other organisms rely on constant integration and updating of our internal and external environment, we know little about how the brain supports this integration. Work in Dr. Wasserman’s lab aims to identify how the brain can accomplish step three: integration of stimuli to drive contextually appropriate behavior. The fruit fly must also follow the steps outlined above to generate behaviors that support its survival. Due to the small size of the fly brain along with the availability of an incredibly diverse set of scientific tools, (including virtual reality flight simulators!) we are able to identify single genes, neurons, and circuits that underlie how a brain can make a decision to generate behavior that will promote survival in a variety of contexts.

For more information on The Harry Crate Lecture Series, please contact Dr. Ruth Grubesic, Associate Professor of Nursing and Public Health, at 830-792-7250 or rbgrubesic@schreiner.edu.

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