Paramecium is a unicellular organism that swims in fresh water by beating thousands of cilia. When it is stimulated (mechanically, chemically, optically, thermally…), it often swims backward then turns and swims forward again. This “avoiding reaction” is triggered by a calcium-based action potential. For this reason, some authors have called Paramecium a “swimming neuron”. The goal of this project is to develop integrative models of Paramecium, bridging physiology and behavior. The group applies modeling with electrophysiological and behavioral experimentation.
Specifically, the student may work on various experimental and/or theoretical projects (ideally a combination), for example:
- Developing an integrated model of mechanosensitivity in Paramecium, to understand how the organism avoids obstacles. The project may include a study of habituation, an elementary form of learning.
- Modeling how Paramecium navigates in chemical landscapes.
- Studying the closed-loop interaction between an electrophysiological model of Paramecium and an environment.
- Studying conditioning (Paramecium learns to react to sounds) or tube escape learning (Paramecium learns to escape from a capillary).
- Brette (2021), Integrative Neuroscience of Paramecium, a “Swimming Neuron”, eNeuro 5 May 2021, 8 (3)
- Elices I, Kulkarni A, Escoubet N, Pontani LL, Prevost AM, Brette R (2022). An electrophysiological and behavioral model of Paramecium, the "swimming neuron". bioRxiv https://doi.org/10.1101/2022.02.15.480485