Work in the Mason lab focuses on sensory processes underlying communication and decision-making.

Our goal is to understand the mechanisms by which the nervous system controls ongoing activity and how these mechanisms relate to behavioural adaptation. We use invertebrate model systems to identify basic principles of sensory integration of complex stimuli, mulit-modal communication, and how organisms adapt to biophysical constraints on these processes.

Current research:

Sound localization and auditory processing in the fly Ormia ochracea. These flies are acoustic parasitoids – juvenile stages develop as internal parasites of crickets and female flies find suitable hosts by localizing the sound of singing male crickets. Unusually for flies, Ormia have ears dedicated to the sole purpose of detecting and locating the calls of crickets. We study how the flies auditory systems is able to detect and encode information from cricket sounds.
Complex communication signals. Some animals communicate using relatively simple and stereotyped signals, others produce signals and displays that are much more complex (including multiple distinct components and/or sensory modalities). We are interested in origin and function of increasing signal complexity, as well as the neural mechanisms that process these signals. We study insects (katydids) that combine sound and substrate-borne vibration and jumping spiders that combine visual and substrate-borne signals.