Sex differences in decision-making during a multisensory behavior in worms

    Author Name(s)

    Chane Sevilla, Madison Lewis, Denise Carigo , Gareth Harris

    Faculty Advisor(s)

    Gareth Harris


    Human behavior and underlying differences in male and female is an intense area in research. Despite numerous studies, the mechanism underlying behavioral differences, such as sensation, perception of sensory cues and decision making, and how it is processed within the human brain is still not understood. Furthermore, the alterations in neural mechanisms resulting in different experiences of neurological disorders amongst genders is not clear. To address the differences in neural mechanisms between male and female, we use C.elegans as a model to investigate the mechanistic details that regulate the sensory processing of sensory cues and decision-making. In this model, we used a hermaphrodite and male worm analysis including the use of mutant analysis and worm neuron manipulation to identify potential male specific signals that influence male behavior when compared to hermaphrodites using a multisensory behavior known as “2-nonanone-dependent food leaving”. Based on our lab’s interest in studying the processes in human sensory process of different sensory cues during decision-making and differences sex differences, we have begun to characterize the behavioral difference between hermaphrodites and male worms through a “multisensory behavior paradigm” in which C.elegans hermaphrodite worms and male worms are analyzed for their ability to leave a food lawn when exposed to a repulsive odor cue known as 2-nonanone. We demonstrate differences in male vs hermaphrodites when examining escape behavior from 2-nonanone during processing of both food and 2-nonanone. We are currently determining the role of the nervous system in controlling male vs hermaphrodite behavioral differences through i) using genetics to selectively knockdown male specific pathways to further understand the differences between males and hermaphrodites at the behavior and decision-making level.



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