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Syntax in C. elegans locomotion

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Abstract: Behaviour is a striking phenotype and often one of the first things we notice about an animal. Broadly speaking, we are interested in understanding how genes affect behaviour, but despite rapid advances in technology for sequencing and engineering genomes, it is still a challenge to associate particular genes with heritable behavioural differences because behaviour is time consuming to measure and difficult to quantify. We are using automated imaging to record the behaviour of freely moving nematode worms and developing new analysis methods to extract relevant features. I will discuss unsupervised methods to quantify behavioural repertoires, and how making connections to language processing and data compression can give insight into the structure of behaviour. Finally I will show how these new representations can advance the study of behavioural genetics and phenotypic drug screening.

This talk is part of the Departmental Seminar Programme, Department of Veterinary Medicine series.

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