Winter School on Neural Control of Instinctive and Innate Behaviour

External Event - 6th to 12th Jan 2019

Instinctive behaviors such as feeding, fighting or avoiding threats, are fundamental actions that have been selected through evolution to increase survival. Classical ethology studies have shown that these actions are often innate, and deployed in response to primitive motivational drives. However, they also support learning of new behavioural sequences to satisfy the same basic motivations, and are therefore the key building block for all natural behaviors.

Reaching an understanding of instinctive behaviours at the neural level has traditionally been a challenge because they are best studied in naturalistic settings, and are therefore not easily amenable to rigorous experimental control. However, recent technical advances across systems neuroscience provide an unprecedented opportunity for understanding the neural basis of instinct. In this school we will cover instinctive behaviours across species, and build an overview of the current knowledge on neural control of instinctive behaviour, from historical field work to the most recent laboratory studies.

We will discuss what components of instinctive behaviours are truly innate and how they can be implemented by nervous systems, and consider the intersection of neural circuits and mechanisms for innate behaviour with the classical systems that support learning. Great emphasis will be placed on new approaches for bringing naturalistic behaviours into the laboratory, allowing simultaneous high-resolution measurements of behaviour and neural activity, as well as theoretical modelling and causal interrogations of current hypotheses. We will aim to summarise the most exciting unknowns and challenges in this field, and debate how to best solve them throughout the school.

Applications are open!

Apply here

Deadline: 16 July 2018

Scientific chairs

Registration and stipends

  • Fee: FENS Members: 495 EUR
             FENS Non-members: 575 EUR
  • Registration fee covers tuition, accommodation and meals.
  • FENS offers 4 stipends (covering the registration fee) available for candidates from disadvantaged countries. Any applicant in need of a grant should however first try to request it from the lab, institution or government if possible. You can apply for a stipend inside the application form. 


Universitätszentrum Obergurgl, Austria

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