Neuroscience at The University of Chicago

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PhD, University of Chicago




Dept of Anatomy, Rm 401

1027 E. 57th St.

Chicago, Illinois 60637

773 834-9917

Melina Hale, PhD


Research Interests
  • Cellular & Molecular
  • Systems / Behavior / Cognitive
Animals rely on the ability to move for all basic functions from simple escape behaviors to visually tracking prey, from reaching and grasping to chewing and digesting. Movements result from the activity of neurons in the brain and/or spinal cord driving muscle contraction, muscles actuating skeletal elements, the body interacting with the physical environment surrounding it and sensory feedback providing appropriate modulation. The research in our laboratory combines biomechanics and neurobiology to examine movement from an integrative perspective. We use startle behavior and fin movements of fishes as simple model systems for studying motor circuits and how they function in behaviors. Zebrafish provide a valuable study organism for this work as many molecular approaches as well as mutant and transgenic lines are available in this model genetic system. We also study movement comparatively, through the evolution of vertebrates and through their early development. With such comparisons we can examine mechanisms by which motor circuits change through time and with the functions they drive.

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Liu, Y. C. and M. E. Hale. In Press. Alternative forms of axial startle behavior in fish. Zoology. (Proof online 12/2013). King, H. M. and M. E. Hale. 2013. Musculoskeletal morphology of the pelvis and pelvic fins in the lungfish Protopterus annectens. J. Morph. doi: 10.1002/jmor.20225 Williams, R. IV, N. Neubarth and M. E. Hale. 2013. The function of fin rays as proprioceptive sensors in fish. Nat. Comm. doi:10.1038/ncomms2751. Green, M. H., O. M. Curet, N. A. Patankar and M. E. Hale. 2013. Fluid dynamics of the larval zebrafish pectoral fin and the role of fin bending in fluid transport. Bioinsp. and Biomim. 8:016002. Stewart, T. S. and M. E. Hale. 2013. First description of a musculoskeletal linkage in an adipose fin: Innovations for active control in a primitively passive appendage. Proc. Roy. Soc. B. 280:20122159. Green, M. H. and M. E. Hale. 2012. Activity of pectoral fin motoneurons during two swimming gaits in the larval zebrafish (Danio rerio) and localization of upstream circuit elements. J. Neurophysiol. 108:3393-3492. Liu, Y.-C., I. Bailey and M. E. Hale. 2012. Alternative startle motor patterns and behaviors in the larval zebrafish (Danio rerio). J. Comp. Physiol. A 198:11-24. Green, M. H., R. K. Ho and M. E. Hale. 2011. The behavior and function of zebrafish pectoral fins. J. Exp. Biol. 214:3111-3123. King, H. M., N. H. Shubin, M. I. Coates and M. E. Hale. 2011. Behavioral evidence for the evolution of walking and bounding before terrestriality in sarcopterygian fishes. PNAS 108:21146-21151. Sandulescu, C. M., R. Y. Teow, M. E. Hale and C. Zhang. 2011. Onset and dynamic expression of S100 proteins in the olfactory organ and the lateral line system in zebrafish development. Brain Res. 1383:120-127. Phelan, C., J. Tangorra, G. Lauder and M. E. Hale. 2010. A biorobotic model of the sunfish pectoral fin for investigations of fin sensorimotor control. Bioinsp. and Biomim. 5:035003.