Tod R. Thiele

Tod R. Thiele
Assistant Professor
Telephone number
Building SW 534A

Teaching Interests

NROC34: Neuroethology

Research Interests

The focus of our laboratory is to understand the structure and function of vertebrate neural circuits using the larval zebrafish as a model system. The zebrafish is a powerful model to study neural circuits due to its unparalleled combination of experimental approaches, notably the ability to optically monitor and manipulate activity throughout the brain. Given the strong conservation of brain organization across vertebrates, discoveries made in zebrafish can provide core insights into the function of similar circuits in mammals. We utilize two-photon calcium imaging, optogenetic manipulation of neural activity, neuroanatomical tracing, quantitative behavioural analyses and genome editing to determine how circuits in the fish produce behavioural outputs. We are currently interested in examining circuits within zebrafish that are homologous to the mammalian striatum. In addition, we are investigating neural mechanisms underlying the forgetting of memories and the expression of fear.  We are also investigating how circuits in visual centers of zebrafish and African cichlids encode natural underwater scenes. Our medical research is centered around determining how genetic mutations lead to neural circuit dysfunctions that underlie childhood dystonia.


  • Neural circuit basis of behaviour
  • Striatum
  • Neural mechanisms underlying fear
  • Learning & memory
  • Neural circuit evolution
  • Dystonia
  • Behavioural analysis
  • Two-photon calcium imaging
  • Optogenetics
  • CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing

Research Area

Sensorimotor integration, Motor control, Systems Neuroscience

Current Research

  • Investigation of circuits in fish that are homologous to the mammalian striatum
  • Analysis of circuits in fish that are homologous to mammalian circuits for fear and pain
  • The role of neurogenesis in the forgetting of memories
  • Investigation of neural circuit dysfunction underlying dystonic movements
  • Examination of natural scene encoding in zebrafish and cichlids


We are currently recruiting graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. Please inquire via email.