Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Andrew M. Dacks

Committee Member

Kevin C. Daly

Committee Member

Clifton P. Bishop

Committee Member

Sarah M. Farris

Committee Member

Eric S. Tucker


Neuromodulation is a nearly ubiquitous process that endows the nervous system with the capacity to alter neural function at every level (synaptic, circuit, network, etc.) without necessarily adding new neurons. Through the actions of neuromodulators, the existing neural circuitry can be adaptively tuned to achieve flexible network output and similarly dynamic behavioral output. However, despite their near ubiquity in all sensory modalities, the mechanisms underlying neuromodulation of sensory processing remain poorly understood. In this dissertation, I address three main questions regarding the mechanisms of one modulator (serotonin) within one sensory modality (olfaction). I begin by establishing a "functional atlas" of which principal neuron types express which of the five serotonin receptors in the highly-tractable Drosophila primary olfactory center, the antennal lobe. Later, I use this "functional atlas" to determine how the activity of one serotonin receptor shapes the activity of a specialized neuropeptidergic signaling pathway. However, before I can address how the activity of this serotonin receptor adjusts the activity of this neuropeptidergic pathway, I demonstrate how this neuropeptidergic pathway shapes olfactory processing. Altogether, my work establishes several key insights that expand our understanding of neuromodulation of sensory processing.

Embargo Reason

Publication Pending