I am interested in the question, how the brain integrates multimodal stimuli. My work is focused on a neuropil called mushroom body (MB), responsible for learning and memory formation and possibly multimodal integration in insects. To investigate if the latter is true I expose honeybees (Apis mellifera) to controlled visual and olfactory stimuli in a classical conditioning paradigm. Thereby the animals have to learn to associate an olfactory-visual compound with a reward, as it would naturally happen, e.g. during a foraging flight when bees are pollinating flowers searching for nectar and pollen. At the same time I use extracellular multi-unit recordings to register the activity of MB output neurons (MBON). Comparing MBON activity before, during and after learning in response to the single modalities as well as the multimodal compound will give me insight into the neuronal computation at this processing level.
1.Ruedenauer, F. A., Leonhardt, S. D., Schmalz, F., Rössler, W., and Strube-Bloss, M. F. (2017) Separation of different pollen types by chemotactile sensing in Bombus terrestris, Journal of Experimental Biology, The Company of Biologists Ltd 220, 1435–1442.