Innate Behavior

Vasconcelos Lab

Animals exhibit behavioral repertoires that are often innate and result in stereotyped sexual and social responses to their environment. Innate behaviors do not require learning or experience and are likely to reflect the activation of developmentally programmed neural circuits. We are interested in the nature of defined neural circuits: how activation of circuits elicits specific behaviors.

It has been extremely difficult in complex organisms to study a circuit beyond the early stages of sensory processing. Drosophila melanogaster is an attractive model system to understand a circuit because flies exhibit complex behaviors that are controlled by a nervous system that is numerically five orders of magnitude simpler than that of vertebrates.

We use a combined behavioral, genetic, imaging and electrophysiological approach to determine how defined neural circuits and their activation elicit specific behaviors.


Main Interests

Identification of the neural circuits and mechanisms that control innate, or instinctive, behaviours


Optogenetics, Imaging, Behaviour and Genetics

Models and Regions

Drosophila melanogaster, Whole brain


If you are interested in joining our group, please contact Maria Luísa Vasconcelos at the email address bellow.


Lab Webpage



Innate Behavior

Know our Team

Maria Luísa Vasconcelos

Maria Luísa Vasconcelos, PhD

Principal Investigator

Cristina Ferreira

Cristina Ferreira

2013 INDP PhD Student

Miguel Gaspar

Miguel Gaspar

2014 INDP PhD Student

Eliane Ochôa Arez

Eliane Ochôa Arez

External PhD Student

Margarida Brotas

Margarida Brotas

Masters Student

Cecilia Mezzera

Cecilia Mezzera, PhD

Postdoctoral Researcher

Sophie Dias

Sophie Dias

Research Technician

Margarida Nunes

Margarida Nunes

Lab Administrator


Know our Publications