Sandeep Robert Datta, MD, PhD
All animals build models of the world which are then leveraged to make accurate predictions and to generate meaningful behaviors. The Datta lab wishes to understand how these models are built and deployed during behavior — we wish to address how the brain uses sensation to inform action, how the brain uses action to more effectively sense the world, and how the brain integrates information about sensation and action to meaningfully interact with the environment. The main hypothesis of the laboratory is that we can gain leverage on this set of problems by studying neural circuits that underlie naturalistic behaviors in unrestrained animals — in other words, by exploring neural circuits in which sensation and ongoing action are necessarily intertwined. Given that olfaction is the primary sense used by most animals to communicate with their environment, we focus on characterizing odor information as it propagates through the olfactory system to drive complex solitary and social behaviors and facilitate learning. Conversely, we ask how motor systems interpret organized representations of the sensory environment to compose ongoing, moment-to-moment behavioral sequences that aid in understanding the sensory environment and ultimately allow animals to survive in a complex world.
Sandeep Robert Datta, a 2014 Vallee Scholar, is a Professor of Neurobiology at the Harvard Medical School. Prior to his arrival at Harvard, Dr Datta was a graduate student with Michael Greenberg at Harvard Medical School and a postdoctoral fellow with Richard Axel at Columbia University. He is also the recipient of a Burroughs Wellcome Career Award in Medical Sciences, research fellowships from the Sloan, Searle and McKnight Foundations, and has won the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award.