We are interested in understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying behavioral plasticity on three major time scales: 1. Evolutionary time scale: we use genetic and genomic approaches to understand mechanisms that underlie behavioral variations between individuals as well as between species. These studies will help understand the role of behavioral phenotypes in driving evolution, and the role of behavior in speciation. 2. Developmental time scale: we study mechanisms underlying changes in specific behaviors expressed by single individuals over their lifetime, with specific emphasis on processes that affect neuronal plasticity at the sensory and central levels. 3. Physiological time scale: we study mechanisms underlying changes in behavior in response to acute changes in the physical and social environements of individuals. Here we focus on understanding how behaviorally specific stimuli activate specific neuronal circuits, which results in the release of a specific behavior. The Ben-Shahar lab studies various projects that are related to one or more of the above processes using insect models. Although we are currently focusing on the powerful genetic model Drosophila melanogaster (the fruit fly), we are also developing projects that will utilize the emerging model for complex social behaviors, the European honey bee, Apis mellifera. Work in our lab is at the interface of behavior, genetics, genomics, molecular and cellular biology, and neurophysiology. We hope these studies will result in an integrative understanding of the mechanisms for behavioral plasticity. Some of the projects currently investigated in the lab are described below.