Sandeep Robert Datta
Sandeep Robert Datta, M.D., Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Neurobiology

The goal of our research is to address a core problem in neurobiology — how is the brain wired to extract information from the environment and convert that information into action?  Our laboratory seeks to answer this question by studying the mammalian olfactory system, which affords most animals the ability to detect and appropriately respond to crucial environmental cues. The central hypothesis of our laboratory is that the neural circuits recruited by ethologically-relevant odors (such as those from food, predators and mates) are anatomically and genetically stereotyped; we leverage the invariance of this specific type of neural circuit to understand how odor inputs are detected in the sensory periphery, encoded by patterns of coordinated activity in the brain, and then decoded to generate meaningful patterns of action. This research program sits at the intersection of molecular genetics, systems neuroscience and neuroethology, and accordingly we take advantage of an interdisciplinary toolkit including modern techniques — such as functional imaging, optogenetics, and single-cell sequencing — and approaches of our own making — such as multiphoton-guided neural tracing and machine learning-based characterization of mouse body language. Because the olfactory circuits that underlie odor-driven innate behavior do not exist in isolation but as part of a complex neural mechanism capable of associative learning and top-down modulation, we also actively explore how this specific wiring impinges upon (and is influenced by) neural mechanisms that reflect experience and internal state. This work, by design and through serendipity, has important implications for a number of diseases of the brain (including neurodegenerative diseases, motor disorders and autism spectrum disorders); our research on sensorimotor coupling may therefore lead to insight into these serious diseases, as well as other disorders related to behavioral valence and motivation.

"The central hypothesis of our laboratory is that the neural circuits that trigger fixed action pattern behaviors in response to ethologically-relevant odors (such as those from food, predators and mates) are both anatomically and genetically stereotyped."

Publications View
The striatum specifies the statistics of behavior.
Authors: Authors: Markowitz JE, Datta SR.
Neuropsychopharmacology
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Computational Neuroethology: A Call to Action.
Authors: Authors: Datta SR, Anderson DJ, Branson K, Perona P, Leifer A.
Neuron
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Q&A: Understanding the composition of behavior.
Authors: Authors: Datta SR.
BMC Biol
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The Striatum Organizes 3D Behavior via Moment-to-Moment Action Selection.
Authors: Authors: Markowitz JE, Gillis WF, Beron CC, Neufeld SQ, Robertson K, Bhagat ND, Peterson RE, Peterson E, Hyun M, Linderman SW, Sabatini BL, Datta SR.
Cell
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Filopodia Conduct Target Selection in Cortical Neurons Using Differences in Signal Kinetics of a Single Kinase.
Authors: Authors: Mao YT, Zhu JX, Hanamura K, Iurilli G, Datta SR, Dalva MB.
Neuron
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Dynamic illumination of spatially restricted or large brain volumes via a single tapered optical fiber.
Authors: Authors: Pisanello F, Mandelbaum G, Pisanello M, Oldenburg IA, Sileo L, Markowitz JE, Peterson RE, Della Patria A, Haynes TM, Emara MS, Spagnolo B, Datta SR, De Vittorio M, Sabatini BL.
Nat Neurosci
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Knowing where the nose is.
Authors: Authors: Gillis WF, Datta SR.
BMC Biol
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Population Coding in an Innately Relevant Olfactory Area.
Authors: Authors: Iurilli G, Datta SR.
Neuron
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The Evolving Neural and Genetic Architecture of Vertebrate Olfaction.
Authors: Authors: Bear DM, Lassance JM, Hoekstra HE, Datta SR.
Curr Biol
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A Family of non-GPCR Chemosensors Defines an Alternative Logic for Mammalian Olfaction.
Authors: Authors: Greer PL, Bear DM, Lassance JM, Bloom ML, Tsukahara T, Pashkovski SL, Masuda FK, Nowlan AC, Kirchner R, Hoekstra HE, Datta SR.
Cell
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