The Insect Neurobiology and Neuroecology (INN) Laboratory has been recently developed by the collaboration between the Research and Innovation Centre of the Edmund Mach Foundation and the Centre for Mind and Brain Sciences. It is currently under construction and will be part of the Progetto Manifattura Laboratories in Rovereto. The aim of the lab is to investigate the neurophysiological basis of animal/environment interactions and, in particular, the intraspecific and interspecific communication in insects. The mission is to acquire basic knowledge on the mechanisms of sensory information and their transduction into output behaviors. Research will be conducted using both behavioral and neurobiological techniques in order to unravel also cognitive function of the brain such as learning and memory. Insects might be, in fact, useful models to understand mechanisms and functioning common to all animal species. Furthermore, the acquired knowledge will supply new methods of interference and disruption in applied agriculture and for getting ready insect biosensors of diseases. The lab will focus its research interests mainly in pollinator insects with different social structures such as honeybees and bumblebees that are key model species in neuroscience as well as grapevine and codling moths and vectors of diseases species that will provide suitable models to study different aspects of insect communication. The staff will be involved in studying how odor and sound information are coded in the insect brain and how neurophysiological activity is linked with behaviors.
The lab will be provided with facilities that allow us to conduct both classical ethological assays and neurobiological investigations. Classical conditioning techniques will be exploited to study learning and memory retention. The peripheral specificity of signal detection will be characterized by recording responses to the sensory areas of the insects as well as by testing the animal in wind tunnel and Y shape mazes using stimuli with different biological roles. Central neurophysiological processes will be described by means of optical imaging techniques and intracellular recordings.