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Dr Clara Ferreira

Assistant Professor

Department: Applied Sciences

Clara is fascinated with the power of using the fly Drosophila melanogaster to study common neurobiological processes. This fascination came about during the curricular year of her PhD at the Champalimaud Foundation in Portugal, with the realisation of the variety and complexity of behaviour these animals display, as well as of the breadth of tools available to identify and manipulate individual neurons allowing a detailed architectural and functional understanding of neuronal circuits. Clara studied learning and memory and decision-making processes in individual flies in France and the UK. After obtaining her PhD from the University of Oxford, Clara set out to study social modulation of defence behaviours in groups of flies, a pervasive feature of social interactions across the animal kingdom. For this purpose, Clara developed a novel setup and found that flies use social cues from the group to infer both danger and safety. This paradigm and these initial findings open up a vast array of research questions that Clara is now pursuing in her lab at Northumbria University.

Clara Ferreira

Established in July 2023, research in the Ferreira lab focuses on understanding exactly how social cues are detected and processed in the brain to guide behavioural shifts. Protection against predation is a primordial driver of group formation and hence studying social processes within this context will provide important insight into the evolution of social behaviour. Moreover, studying these processes in flies will permit pinpointing where and how common environmental or genetic disruptors of social behaviour instantiate their effects, crucial to understanding social behaviour dysfunction.

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • Social Cues of Safety Can Override Differences in Threat Level, Ferreira, C., Heinemans, M., Farias, M., Gonçalves, R., Moita, M. 24 Jun 2022, In: Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution
  • Behavioral and neuronal underpinnings of safety in numbers in fruit flies, Ferreira, C., Moita, M. 1 Dec 2020, In: Nature Communications
  • What can a non-eusocial insect tell us about the neural basis of group behaviour?, Ferreira, C., Moita, M. Dec 2019, In: Current Opinion in Insect Science
  • FoxP influences the speed and accuracy of a perceptual decision in Drosophila, DasGupta, S., Ferreira, C., Miesenboc̈k, G. 2014, In: Science
  • Differential gene expression analysis in Enchytraeus albidus exposed to natural and chemical stressors at different exposure periods, Novais, S., Howcroft, C., Carreto, L., Pereira, P., Santos, M., De Coen, W., Soares, A., Amorim, M. Jan 2012, In: Ecotoxicology
  • Biochemical characterization of cholinesterases in Enchytraeus albidus and assessment of in vivo and in vitro effects of different soil properties, copper and phenmedipham, Howcroft, C., Gravato, C., Amorim, M., Novais, S., Soares, A., Guilhermino, L. Jan 2011, In: Ecotoxicology
  • Effects of natural and chemical stressors on Enchytraeus albidus: Can oxidative stress parameters be used as fast screening tools for the assessment of different stress impacts in soils?, Howcroft, C., Amorim, M., Gravato, C., Guilhermino, L., Soares, A. Feb 2009, In: Environment international

Neurosciences DPhil June 30 2015


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