Date of Award

Spring 5-22-2017

Document Type

Undergraduate Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts in Behavioral Neuroscience


Psychological Sciences


Divya Sitaraman, PhD


This thesis addresses neuroscience research focusing on the brain’s mechanisms underlying behavioral choice, or prioritization, and decision-making. The research has been conducted with Drosophila melanogaster, the fruit fly – a good model from both the behavioral and neural perspectives. This project specifically observes the co-regulation of sleep with two other behaviors – courtship and oviposition. The overlap between the sleep and courtship circuits in the brain should provide a good model for behavioral prioritization, and the interaction between sleep and ovipositional preference should provide a model for understanding the effects of sleep on decision-making. All three of these adaptive behaviors are well studied at the behavioral level among flies and humans, but not well understood at the neuronal levels. The data presented points toward a neurotransmitter called octopamine – the fly’s homolog of the human neurotransmitter norepinephrine as key in the co-regulation between sleep and decision-making circuitry in the brain. Further research should delve into this pathway for a better understanding of such neural mechanisms.