I will describe recent work on two systems and at different levels of investigation, both touching upon dynamics in the brain. In the first I will describe the unexpected dynamic complexity of sleep activity in the brain of a reptile, the Australian dragon, revealing competition between the two claustra during REM sleep. In the second, I will describe behavioural experiments on camouflage behavior in cuttlefish, an animal that exploits a unique skin display system controlled by the brain to match the texture statistics of visual scenes. These experiments are geared towards understanding the neural basis for texture perception in an animal whose lineage bifurcated from ours over 600 M years ago.

Gilles Laurent is a Director at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research in Frankfurt (Germany). Until 2009, he was the Lawrence Hansson Professor of Biology at the California Institute of Technology (Pasadena, CA), whose faculty he joined in 1990. He was a postdoctoral fellow and Locke Research Fellow of the Royal Society at the University of Cambridge from 1985 to 1990. Gilles Laurent’s interests are  centred on identifying principles of brain operations. He has worked on olfactory computation in insects, fish and rodents, and on motor control, local circuits, and vision in insects. His present research concerns sleep (in reptiles), vertebrate brain evolution, and texture perception and generation (in cephalopods). A theme that binds these diverse topics is the dynamics of neuronal circuits.


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