Research in my lab investigates the neural basis of animal behavior. More specifically, we focus on identifying the structure and function of neural circuits that control discrete behaviors in crayfish. Because the nervous system of crayfish features similar neurophysiological and neurochemical mechanisms compared to organisms of higher complexity, but allows relevant analysis at the cellular and circuit level, they are our primary model for neurobehavioral research.
Crayfish display easily quantifiable behavioral patterns controlled by a nervous system of tractable complexity with large "command-like" neurons that are accessible for a variety of experimental approaches (Sullivan & Herberholz 2013). We are investigating how these neurons and neural circuits orchestrate behavioral action in specific behavioral contexts.
Dr. Jens Herberholz is an Associate Professor in the Psychology Department and the Director of the Neuroscience and Cognitive Science Program, an interdisciplinary, multi-departmental research and graduate training program at the University of Maryland, College Park. Dr. Herberholz received his PhD from the Technical University in Munich, Germany. His PhD work investigated the importance of mechanosensory signals during aggressive interactions in snapping shrimp. Following his PhD he was a Postdoctoral Associate and Research Scientist at Georgia State University where he combined single-cell electrophysiology with behavioral analysis to study the neurobehavioral underpinnings of escape in crayfish. In his own laboratory, he continues to use crayfish as a primary animal model for research. Crayfish make complex behavioral decisions, and they feature an accessible nervous system with large, identifiable neurons, which allows for cellular and circuit-level analysis using neurophysiological, neuroanatomical, neurochemical, and neuroimaging techniques. His current research program focuses on identifying the structure and function of decision-making neural circuitry and understanding the interconnections between neural activity patterns and motor action in the context of aggression and predator avoidance. His most recent work addresses fundamental questions regarding the role of neurochemical inhibition, including the interplay between the neurocellular effects of alcohol and behavioral disinhibition, with the long-term goal of identifying how nervous system function is linked to adaptive and maladaptive behavioral output. Dr. Herberholz has published many peer-reviewed articles and conference abstracts as well as several book chapters on these topics; his research has been supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), and featured by various media outlets. He is an associate editor for the journal "Behaviour" and a member of the editorial boards for the journals "Invertebrate Neuroscience" and "Frontiers in Invertebrate Physiology".
- Neural basis of animal behavior
- Identification of the structure and function of neural circuits that control discrete behaviors in crayfish
- Study of how neurons and neural circuits orchestrate behavioral action in specific behavioral contexts