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
Revealing the structure of pharmacobehavioral space through motion sequencing.
Authors: Authors: Wiltschko AB, Tsukahara T, Zeine A, Anyoha R, Gillis WF, Markowitz JE, Peterson RE, Katon J, Johnson MJ, Datta SR.
Nat Neurosci
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Author Correction: Structure and flexibility in cortical representations of odour space.
Authors: Authors: Pashkovski SL, Iurilli G, Brann D, Chicharro D, Drummey K, Franks KM, Panzeri S, Datta SR.
Nature
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Non-neuronal expression of SARS-CoV-2 entry genes in the olfactory system suggests mechanisms underlying COVID-19-associated anosmia.
Authors: Authors: Brann DH, Tsukahara T, Weinreb C, Lipovsek M, Van den Berge K, Gong B, Chance R, Macaulay IC, Chou HJ, Fletcher RB, Das D, Street K, de Bezieux HR, Choi YG, Risso D, Dudoit S, Purdom E, Mill J, Hachem RA, Matsunami H, Logan DW, Goldstein BJ, Grubb MS, Ngai J, Datta SR.
Sci Adv
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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.
Nature
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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.
Neuron
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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.
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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