Sensory features of the world and the surrounding individuals must be constantly integrated by the central nervous system (CNS) to take appropriate actions. Imagine the first date you had with your love partner. The earliest visual cues will lead in split seconds to an internal reaction, such as the appreciation of their physical appearance. By welcoming each other, you may have hugged and spoken a word, all of which stimulated your sense of touch, hearing sense and your sense of smell thereby leading to a certain arousal state. However, the continuation of the date will depend a lot on your and your love partners behaviour and internal state. If he or she will need to get up early for work, they may not be willing to invite you over for a coffee.
Animals face similar problems during social and sexual behaviours and need to match various sensory modalities of their social/sexual interaction partners with their body states and needs. Understanding how the brain controls this process during socio-sexual behaviours is a challenging endeavour as it links sensory processing, motor control and executive functions. In my lab, we want to take on this challenge by using the mouse model and cutting-edge circuit oriented neuroscientific technologies. Moreover, we want to study the development of these major circuit hubs that link the outside world with the brain and body allowing for specialized sensory and motor outputs underlying socio-sexual behaviours thereby ensuring species survival and fitness.