Professional Education

  • Bachelor of Science, New York University (2017)
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Rockefeller University (2023)
  • BS, New York University, Neural Science (2017)
  • PhD, The Rockefeller University, Biological Sciences (2023)

Stanford Advisors

All Publications

  • Male-male interactions shape mate selection in Drosophila. bioRxiv : the preprint server for biology Sten, T. H., Li, R., Hollunder, F., Eleazer, S., Ruta, V. 2023


    Males of many species have evolved behavioral traits to both attract females and repel rivals. Here, we explore mate selection in Drosophila from both the male and female perspective to shed light on how these key components of sexual selection - female choice and male-male competition - work in concert to guide reproductive strategies. We find that male flies fend off competing suitors by interleaving their courtship of a female with aggressive wing flicks, which both repel competitors and generate a 'song' that obscures the female's auditory perception of other potential mates. Two higher-order circuit nodes - P1a and pC1x neurons - are coordinately recruited to allow males to flexibly interleave these agonistic actions with courtship displays, assuring they persistently pursue females until their rival falters. Together, our results suggest that female mating decisions are shaped by male-male interactions, underscoring how a male's ability to subvert his rivals is central to his reproductive success.

    View details for DOI 10.1101/2023.11.03.565582

    View details for PubMedID 37961193

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC10635267

  • Sexual arousal gates visual processing during Drosophila courtship NATURE Sten, T., Li, R., Otopalik, A., Ruta, V. 2021; 595 (7868): 549-+


    Long-lasting internal arousal states motivate and pattern ongoing behaviour, enabling the temporary emergence of innate behavioural programs that serve the needs of an animal, such as fighting, feeding, and mating. However, how internal states shape sensory processing or behaviour remains unclear. In Drosophila, male flies perform a lengthy and elaborate courtship ritual that is triggered by the activation of sexually dimorphic P1 neurons1-5, during which they faithfully follow and sing to a female6,7. Here, by recording from males as they court a virtual 'female', we gain insight into how the salience of visual cues is transformed by a male's internal arousal state to give rise to persistent courtship pursuit. The gain of LC10a visual projection neurons is selectively increased during courtship, enhancing their sensitivity to moving targets. A concise network model indicates that visual signalling through the LC10a circuit, once amplified by P1-mediated arousal, almost fully specifies a male's tracking of a female. Furthermore, P1 neuron activity correlates with ongoing fluctuations in the intensity of a male's pursuit to continuously tune the gain of the LC10a pathway. Together, these results reveal how a male's internal state can dynamically modulate the propagation of visual signals through a high-fidelity visuomotor circuit to guide his moment-to-moment performance of courtship.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41586-021-03714-w

    View details for Web of Science ID 000671921000001

    View details for PubMedID 34234348

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC8973426

  • Dissociating task acquisition from expression during learning reveals latent knowledge. Nature communications Kuchibhotla, K. V., Hindmarsh Sten, T., Papadoyannis, E. S., Elnozahy, S., Fogelson, K. A., Kumar, R., Boubenec, Y., Holland, P. C., Ostojic, S., Froemke, R. C. 2019; 10 (1): 2151


    Performance on cognitive tasks during learning is used to measure knowledge, yet it remains controversial since such testing is susceptible to contextual factors. To what extent does performance during learning depend on the testing context, rather than underlying knowledge? We trained mice, rats and ferrets on a range of tasks to examine how testing context impacts the acquisition of knowledge versus its expression. We interleaved reinforced trials with probe trials in which we omitted reinforcement. Across tasks, each animal species performed remarkably better in probe trials during learning and inter-animal variability was strikingly reduced. Reinforcement feedback is thus critical for learning-related behavioral improvements but, paradoxically masks the expression of underlying knowledge. We capture these results with a network model in which learning occurs during reinforced trials while context modulates only the read-out parameters. Probing learning by omitting reinforcement thus uncovers latent knowledge and identifies context- not "smartness"- as the major source of individual variability.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41467-019-10089-0

    View details for PubMedID 31089133

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6517418

  • Parallel processing by cortical inhibition enables context-dependent behavior NATURE NEUROSCIENCE Kuchibhotla, K. V., Gill, J. V., Lindsay, G. W., Papadoyannis, E. S., Field, R. E., Sten, T., Miller, K. D., Froemke, R. C. 2017; 20 (1): 62-71


    Physical features of sensory stimuli are fixed, but sensory perception is context dependent. The precise mechanisms that govern contextual modulation remain unknown. Here, we trained mice to switch between two contexts: passively listening to pure tones and performing a recognition task for the same stimuli. Two-photon imaging showed that many excitatory neurons in auditory cortex were suppressed during behavior, while some cells became more active. Whole-cell recordings showed that excitatory inputs were affected only modestly by context, but inhibition was more sensitive, with PV+, SOM+, and VIP+ interneurons balancing inhibition and disinhibition within the network. Cholinergic modulation was involved in context switching, with cholinergic axons increasing activity during behavior and directly depolarizing inhibitory cells. Network modeling captured these findings, but only when modulation coincidently drove all three interneuron subtypes, ruling out either inhibition or disinhibition alone as sole mechanism for active engagement. Parallel processing of cholinergic modulation by cortical interneurons therefore enables context-dependent behavior.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nn.4436

    View details for Web of Science ID 000391085500013

    View details for PubMedID 27798631

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5191967