Sandeep Robert Datta
Sandeep Robert Datta, MD, PhD
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
Finding the Brain in the Nose.
Authors: Authors: Brann DH, Datta SR.
Annu Rev Neurosci
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Structure and flexibility in cortical representations of odour space.
Authors: Authors: Pashkovski SL, Iurilli G, Brann D, Chicharro D, Drummey K, Franks K, Panzeri S, Datta SR.
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COVID-19 and the Chemical Senses: Supporting Players Take Center Stage.
Authors: Authors: Cooper KW, Brann DH, Farruggia MC, Bhutani S, Pellegrino R, Tsukahara T, Weinreb C, Joseph PV, Larson ED, Parma V, Albers MW, Barlow LA, Datta SR, Di Pizio A.
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Renewal and Differentiation of GCD Necklace Olfactory Sensory Neurons.
Authors: Authors: Bloom ML, Johnston LB, Datta SR.
Chem Senses
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The striatum specifies the statistics of behavior.
Authors: Authors: Markowitz JE, Datta SR.
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Computational Neuroethology: A Call to Action.
Authors: Authors: Datta SR, Anderson DJ, Branson K, Perona P, Leifer A.
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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.
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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.
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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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