Lab

     In the Gray lab we are interested in discovering general principles of how nervous systems produce and control complex adaptive behaviours. We use a virtual reality flight simulator in conjunction with state of the art multineuronal recording techniques as well as a free flight wind tunnel to investigate aspects of adaptive insect flight. Click on the links above for a more complete description of the research and the people in the lab.

People

Principal Investigator

Dr. Jack Gray

Head and Associate Professor

Department of Biology
Associate Member
Department of Physiology

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Principal Components


Cody Manchester
Phd Student
Department of Biology

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Sinan Zhang
M.Sc. Student
Department of Biology

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Rachel Parkinson
M.Sc. Student
Department of Biology

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Research

     Our long-term research goal is to discover general principles of how nervous systems produce and control complex adaptive behaviours. Attaining this goal requires a comprehensive approach to investigating interactions between an animal's external environment and its nervous system. To address this issue I study behavioural and neurophysiological aspects of adaptive insect flight. I use model systems in which there is a strong background of behavioural and physiological knowledge upon which to build. These models include collision avoidance in locusts and odour-guided flight of the hawkmoth, Manduca sexta. My research utilizes newly developed approaches that permit, for the first time, direct correlations between aspects of an insect's environment and flight behaviour as well as ensemble activity within the CNS. These approaches incorporate a virtual reality-based insect flight simulator of my own design in conjunction with state of the art multi-neuronal recording techniques from the insect's CNS. To meet my long-term goal my research addresses three specific objectives.

Experimental Approach

      Our experimental approaches involve standard and high speed video recording as well as electrophysiological recordings from insects during free and tethered flight. These approaches utilize the virtual reality flight simulator and/or a free flight wind tunnel. Video recordings provide data on the insect’s position in space and details of body and wing kinematics. Electrophysiological techniques include extracellular and intracellular recordings from insects able to express some aspect of flight behaviour and provide information on the activity of individual or small populations of neurons. We typically use behavioural and electrophysiological approaches in tandem to address issues of how the nervous system controls behaviour. Analysis techniques that we use include: three dimensional motion analysis of behavioural data, state of the art cluster cutting and advanced correlation methods for multi-unit extracellular data and standard waveform analysis techniques in conjunction with correlation methods for intracellular recordings. Where appropriate, we also use single cell staining techniques to identify individual neurons.



Teaching


BIO 317

Fundamentals of Animal Physiology

  • Course Syllabus


BIO 430

Neurobiology of Behaviour


  • Course Syllabus


BIO 830

Advanced Neurobiology of Behaviour

  • Course Syllabus

















Publications

  • McMillan, G. A. and Gray, J. R. (2012). A looming-sensitive pathway responds to changes in the trajectory of object motion. J. Neurophysiol. 108, 1052–1068. PDF

  • Silva, A. C., McMillan, G. A., Santos, C. P. and Gray, J. R. (2015). Background complexity affects response of a looming-sensitive neuron to object motion. J. Neurophysiol. 113, 218–231.

  • Benaragama, I. and Gray, J. R. (2014). Responses of a pair of flying locusts to lateral looming visual stimuli. J. Comp. Physiol. A Neuroethol. Sensory, Neural, Behav. Physiol. 200, 723–738.

  • Dick, P. C. and Gray, J. R. (2014). Spatiotemporal stimulus properties modulate responses to trajectory changes in a locust looming-sensitive pathway. J. Neurophysiol. 111, 1736–45.

  • McMillan, G. A., Loessin, V. and Gray, J. R. (2013). Bilateral flight muscle activity predicts wing kinematics and 3-dimensional body orientation of locusts responding to looming objects. J. Exp. Biol. 216, 3369–80.

  • Gray, J.R., Blincow, E. and R.M. Robertson. (2010). A pair of motion-sensitive neurons in the locust encode approaches of a looming object. J.Comp.Physiol[A]. 196:927-938. PDF

  • Verspui, R. and Gray, J.R. (2009). Visual stimuli induced by self-motion and object-motion modify odour-guided flight of male moths (Manduca sexta L.). J.Exp.Biol. 212: 3272-3282. PDF

  • Butala, J., Arkles, A. and Gray, J.R. (2007). EMG spike time difference based feedback control. Proceedings of the 29th Annual International Conference of the IEEE EMBS. Lyon, France. 6129-6132. PDF

  • Guest, B.B. and Gray, J.R. (2006). Responses of a looming-sensitive neuron to compound and paired object approaches. J.Neurophysiol. 95:1428-1441. PDF

  • Gray, J.R. (2005). Habituated visual neurons in locusts remain sensitive to novel looming objects. J.Exp.Biol. 208:2515-2532. PDF Gray,

  • J.R. and J.C. Weeks. (2003). Steroid-induced dendritic regression reduces anatomical contacts between neurons during synaptic weakening and the developmental loss of a behavior. J.Neurosci. 23:1406-1415. PDF

  • Gray, J.R., V. Pawlowski and M.A. Willis. (2002). A method for recording behavior and multineuronal CNS activity from tethered insects flying in virtual space. J.Neurosci.Methods. 120(2):211-223. PDF

  • Gray J.R., J.K. Lee and R.M. Robertson. (2001). Activity of DCMD neurons and collision avoidance behaviour in response to head-on visual stimuli in locusts. J.Comp.Physiol[A]. 187:115-129. PDF

  • Gray, J.R. and R.M. Robertson. (1998). Effects of heat stress on axonal conduction in the locust flight system. Comp. Biochem. Physiol. A. 120: 181-186. PDF

  • Gray J.R. (1997). Neurons associated with a novel motor pattern expressed during metamorphosis of the hawkmoth, Manduca sexta. Biol. Bull. 193:259-260. PDF Gray,

  • J.R. and R.M. Robertson. (1997). Co-ordination of the flight motor pattern with forewing stretch receptor stimulation in immature and mature adult locusts. Comp. Biochem. Physiol. 118A:(1)125-130. PDF

  • Gray, J.R. and Robertson, R.M. (1996). Structure of the forewing stretch receptor axon in immature and mature adult locusts. J. Comp. Neurol. 365:268-277. PDF

  • Gray, J.R. and Robertson, R.M. (1994). Activity of the forewing stretch receptor in immature and mature adult locusts. J. Comp. Physiol. A. 175:425-435. PDF
  • 2012 10th Congress of the International Society of Neuroethology
    Gray JR and P Dick (2012) The velocity of objects traveling along compound trajectories affects firing properties of an identified locust motion-sensitive interneuron PDF

  • 2011 Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience
    Blincow E and JR Gray (2011) Complex visual motion represented by multiple descending interneurons PDF

  • 2010 9th Congress of the International Society of Neuroethology
    Gray JR, V Loessin and K Hunter (2010) Flight muscle timing, wing kinematics, and 3-dimensional body orientation of loosely tethered locusts responding to looming objects PDF

  • 2008 Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience
    Gray JR and RM Robertson (2008) Parallel motion-sensitive pathways encode approaches of looming objects PDF

  • 2008 Annual Meeting of the Canadian Association for Neuroscience
    McMillan GM and JR Gray (2008) A single motion-sensitive pathway encodes changes in an approaching object’s trajectory PDF

  • 2007 8th Congress of the International Society for Neuroethology
    1. Butala J and JR Gray (2007) Physiologically-based feedback control for neuroethological experiments using synthetic environments PDF
    2. McMillan GA and JR Gray (2007) Responses of a motion sensitive neuron to changes in object trajectory PDF

  • 2007 Annual Meeting of the Canadian Association for Neuroscience
    Gray JR, BB Guest and DP Bakke (2007) Encoding of complex visual motion by a single neural pathway PDF

  • 2006 Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience
    1. Gray JR, BB Guest and DP Bakke (2006) Sublinear processing of compound and multiple object motion PDF
    2. Verspui R and JR Gray (2006) Responses of descending interneurons in the moth, Manduca sexta, to looming visual stimulilt PDF

  • 2004 7th Congress of the International Society for Neuroethology
    Gray JR (2004) Local habituation maintains sensitivity of visual neurons to multiple looming objects PDF

  • 2003 Annual Meeting of the Entomological Society of Saskatchewan
    Mohr NA and Gray JR (2003) Collision avoidance in flying locusts PDF

  • 2003 Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience
    1. Gray JR and Willis MA (2003) Multineuronal responses to complex multimodal sensory cues during behaviour PDF
    2. Mohr NA and Gray JR (2003) Collision avoidance responses in loosely tethered locusts PDF

  • 2003 meeting of the Canadian Science Writers Association
    Gray JR (2003) Virtual reality for insects: How do they fly? PDF

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