Marco Gallio, Ph.D.

Title
Assistant Professor
Department
Department of Neurobiology
Institution
Northwestern University
Address
2205 Tech Drive
Hogan Hall 2-160
City, State, Zip
Evanston, IL 60208
Phone
(847) 491-8303
E-mail
marco.gallio[at]northwestern.edu
Website
http://faculty.wcas.northwestern.edu/marco-gallio/
Research Field
Neuroscience
Award Year
2016

Research

My lab researches the neural mechanisms that guide fruit flies known as Drosophila toward an environment of a preferred temperature of 77° F—and what takes place in the brain when the promise of reward lures flies out of their thermal comfort zone. As a postdoctoral fellow, I pinpointed the neurons that fruit flies use to detect heat and cold, a mechanism that allows them to avoid potentially dangerous temperatures in their environment. But in the wild, flies base their decisions on more than the local climate conditions: They also track odors that lead them toward food and mates. Now, I will map the neural activity that takes place when flies suppress their aversion to unfavorable climes when confronted with the possibility of a food reward—and study how their decision is influenced by their internal state (e.g., how hungry they are at the time). Further, I will place flies in a virtual reality setup that allows them to navigate overlaid odor and temperature stimuli, at the same time manipulating or recording the activity of large numbers of neurons in their brains. This work will provide a template for decoding how our own brains help us process conflicting information to make complex decisions, a skill that can be compromised by age, inebriants, and mental illness.