BMI Progress Reports 2021 // Dr. Jacsik 's Lab, Riddha Manna "Artificial selection for cognitive ability in Drosophila melanogaster"


Event details

Date 01.12.2021 12:1513:00  
Speaker Riddha Manna, Jaksic Lab – Experimental Evolutionary Neurobiology
Category Conferences - Seminars
Event Language English

Human evolution spans almost 9 million years, starting from the divergence from the Pan genus leading to “behavioral modernity,” characterized by the emergence of human extreme cognitive ability. Some parts of human evolutionary progress correspond to major ecological and geographical changes, suggesting that the evolution of human intelligence is adaptive. On the other hand, the evolution of human intelligence might be a correlated outcome of anatomical evolution and behavioral and social evolution, which can be adaptive as well as non-adaptive. However, evidence of any of these hypotheses is sparse or based on observed correlations. For our purpose, we define cognition broadly as the ability to learn or understand or to deal with new or trying situations through the process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through memory, experience, and the senses. In our lab, we aim to approach these hypotheses experimentally to understand the evolution of cognition in a holistic manner considering its beneficial, neutral, and even detrimental roles in the overall evolution of an organism. While studying evolution in nature can be confounding, especially in terms of segregating the effects of the evolution of different traits, experimental evolution and laboratory natural and artificial selection provide powerful tools to analyse the effects of individual traits, cognition in this case. In this talk, we will focus on the development of a setup that allows us to perform behavioural assays in high throughput using an industrial collaborative robot and to artificially select for individuals with a higher cognition than the population. Artificial selection allows us to circumvent the fitness cost of evolving higher cognitive ability, which may occur in a natural setting. The ultimate aim of this study is to compare artificially selected populations with a population evolving under natural selective pressure in order to identify and characterize genetic and physiological constraints for evolution of cognitive ability. We will discuss the evolve and re-sequence strategy to track the genetic changes during experimental evolution and the benefits of using the model organism Drosophila melanogaster.

Practical information

  • Informed public
  • Invitation required


  • Brain Mind Institute

Event broadcasted in