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Sandeep Robert Datta, PhD

Department of Neurobiology, Harvard Medical School


The goal of the Datta laboratory is to address how is the brain extracts information from the environment and converts that information into action.


Animals in the real world have to adapt to changes in sensory cues on timescales of 1s-10s of milliseconds with behavioral responses organized at timescales of 10s-100s of milliseconds. Every time the animal changes its pose or moves its body, its sensory world is reset and has to be sampled anew. From these complex and inter-dependent sensorimotor dynamics arise adaptive patterns of moment-to-moment action that enable animals to interact with the environment in a meaningful manner. Revealing how the brain addresses this challenge requires understanding how neural codes for sensation and action are built, how they interact, and how they are decoded to facilitate the generation of organized and goal-oriented behaviors that evolve coherently over time.


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The Lab


David Bran

Graduate Student

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Lakshanya Thamarai 

Research Assistant


Tim Sainburg

Postdoctoral fellow


Byron Price

Postdoctoral fellow


Jonah Pearl

Graduate Student


Isabel Dalessandro

Graduate Student


Dilansu Guneykaya

Postdoctoral fellow


Sherry Lin

Senior Computer Scientist

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Kara Fulton

Postdoctoral fellow

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Dana Rubi Levy

Postdoctoral fellow


Caleb Weinred

Postdoctoral fellow


Kai Fox

Data Engineer

Selected Publications

Finlay J, Brann D, Hachem RA, Jang DW, Oliva AD, Ko T, Gupta R, Wellford SA, Moseman EA, Jang SS, Yan CH, Matsunami H, Tsukahara T, Datta SR, Goldstein BJ (2022)

Persistent post–COVID-19 smell loss is associated with immune cell infiltration and altered gene expression in olfactory epithelium, Sci Transl Med

Pashkovski SL, Iurilli G, Brann D, Chicharro D, Drummey K, Franks KM, Panzeri S, and Datta SR (2020)
Structure and flexibility in cortical representations of odor space, Nature [pdf]


Cooper KW, Brann DH, Farruggia MC, Bhutani S, Pellegrino R, Tsukahara T, Weinreb C, Joseph PV, Larson ED, Parma V, Albers MW, Barlow LA, Datta SR, and Di Pizio A (2020)

COVID-19 and the chemical senses: supporting players take center stage, Neuron [pdf]


Brann DH, Tsukahara T, Weinreb C, Lipovsek M, Van den Berge K, Gong B, Chance R, Macaulay IC, Chou H, Fletcher RB, Das D, Street K, Roux de Bezieux H, Choi YG, Risso D, Dudoit S, Purdom E, Mill J, Hachem RA, Matsunami H, Logan DW, Goldstein BJ, Grubb MS, Ngai J, and Datta SR (2020)
Non-neuronal expression of SARS-CoV-2 entry genes in the olfactory system suggests mechanisms underlying COVID-19-associated anosmia, Science Adv. [pdf]

Brann DH and Datta SR (2020)
Finding the brain in the nose, Ann. Rev. Neurosci. [pdf]


Bloom ML, Johnston LB, and Datta SR (2020)
Renewal and differentiation of GCD necklace olfactory sensory neurons, Chem Senses [pdf]


Datta SR, Anderson DJ, Branson K, Perona P, Leifer A (2019)
Computational Neuroethology: A Call to Action, Neuron [pdf]


Markowitz JE, and Datta SR (2019)
The striatum specifies the statistics of behavior, Neuropsychopharmacology [pdf]


Batty E, Whiteway MR, Saxena S, Biderman D, Abe T, Musall S, Gillis W, Markowitz JE, Churchland A, Cunningham J, Datta SR, Linderman SL, Paninski L (2019)
BehaveNet: nonlinear embedding and Bayesian neural decoding of behavioral videos, NeurIPS [pdf]


Datta SR (2019)
Q&A: Understanding the composition of behavior, BMC Biol.  [pdf]


Markowitz JE, Gillis WF, Beron CC, Neufeld SQ, Robertson K, Bhagat ND, Peterson RE, Peterson E, Hyun M, Linderman SW, Sabatini BL, and Datta SR. (2018)
The Striatum Organizes 3D Behavior via Moment-to- Moment Action Selection, Cell. [pdf]


Mao YT, Zhu JX, Hanamura K, Iurilli G, Datta SR, Dalva MB. (2018)
Filopodia Conduct Target Selection in Cortical Neurons Using Differences in Signal Kinetics of a Single Kinase, Neuron [pdf]

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