190 Rightmire Hall
1060 Carmack Road
Columbus, OH 43210
Research Interests: The Haesemeyer lab is interested in how brains represents the environment and how they use computational strategies to transform sensation into adaptive behaviors.
Current Research: Temperature regulation is critical for survival since most species are only adapted to a narrow temperature range. Therefore, thermoregulatory strategies are conserved from mammals to bacteria. Zebrafish live in shallow ponds that are subject to large temperature variations. Not surprisingly, they have evolved efficient strategies to navigate thermal gradients. The Haesemeyer lab is interested in understanding how the brain of larval zebrafish processes temperature information to control these behavioral strategies. To this end we employ advanced thermal stimulation paradigms while recording both behavior and neural activity in great detail. Since larval zebrafish are fully transparent we can use optical indicators of neural activity to study what each neuron in the brain is doing as a fish virtually behaves under a microscope. To make sense of the activity and behavioral data we use various advanced modeling and machine learning techniques.
This approach previously allowed us to generate a realistic circuit model that quantifies how larval zebrafish sense temperature, what information they extract about thermal fluctuations and how they use this information to generate adaptive swimming behaviors. Importantly, such circuit models make testable predictions and we are now investigating the biophysical mechanism of computation in the brain.
In their natural environment animals rarely encounter single stimuli in isolation. To understand how different potentially conflicting stimuli are integrated in the brain, we will present temperature stimuli together with other somatosensory modalities such as touch or chemical sensation. Using similar modeling techniques as we have previously developed this will allow us to understand how brains prioritize behavioral responses.
Haesemeyer, M., Schier, A. F., & Engert, F. (2019). Convergent temperature representations in artificial and biological neural networks. Neuron, 103(6), 1123-1134.
Haesemeyer, M., Robson, D. N., Li, J. M., Schier, A. F., & Engert, F. (2018). A brain-wide circuit model of heat-evoked swimming behavior in larval zebrafish. Neuron, 98(4), 817-831.
Haesemeyer, M., Robson, D. N., Li, J. M., Schier, A. F., & Engert, F. (2015). The structure and timescales of heat perception in larval zebrafish. Cell systems, 1(5), 338-348.