Paul S. Katz

Biologoy and Neuroscience Professor, Paul Katz

Professor, Department of Biology

BA, Integrated Science; Northwestern University 1982
MS, Neurophysiology; Northwestern University 1982
PhD, Neurobiology; Cornell University 1989

Research Interests

Dr. Katz is interested in understanding how neuronal circuits operate. He uses sea slugs (Mollusca, Gastropoda, Heterobranchia, Nudipleura) because they have fairly simple brains and simple behaviors. His lab determines the neural mechanisms for these behaviors at the cellular level. Furthermore, because there are many species with similar nervous systems, they can compare the neural circuits in these species to learn about the evolution of neural circuits and behavior. Individual animals exhibit variability in behavior and/or variability in circuit properties. It is important to understand the implications of these differences. Sea slugs offer a great opportunity for studying such inter-individual variability because the neurons in neural circuits are individually identifiable. So, one can examine how particular neurons and particular synapses differ between individuals. Furthermore, one can perturb those neurons and synapses to make them more or less similar to each other using techniques like dynamic clamp or expression of exogenous genes. A new direction in the lab involves using Next Generation RNA sequencing to determine all of the genes that are expressed in slug brains, the so-called transcriptome. This has been completed in six different species, allowing the researchers to determine differences and similarities in their genes and then to map those genes onto the neural circuits and the behavior.

Katz Lab Website


Representative Publications

Sakurai A, Tamvacakis AN, Katz PS (2016) Recruitment of polysynaptic connections underlies functional recovery of a central pattern generator circuit after lesion. eNeuro, DOI: 10.1523/ENEURO.0056-16.2016,
Sakurai A and Katz PS (2016) The central pattern generator underlying swimming in Dendronotus iris: A simple half-center network oscillator with a twist. Journal of Neurophysiology. DOI: 10.1152/jn.00150.2016
Katz PS (2016) ‘Model organisms’ in the light of evolution. Current Biology. 26 (14) pR649–R650. DOI:
Katz PS (2016) Phylogenetic plasticity in the evolution of molluscan neural circuits. Current Opinion in Neurobiology doi:10.1016/j.conb.2016.07.004
Katz PS (2016) Evolution of central pattern generators and rhythmic behaviours. Phil. Trans. Royal Soc. B.371(1685): 20150057. PMID: 26598733,
Gunaratne CA and Katz PS (2016) Comparative mapping of GABA-immunoreactive neurons in the buccal ganglia of Nudipleura molluscs.  J.Comp Neurol. 524(6):1181-92  PMID:26355705
Katz PS (2015) Evolution of central pattern generators and rhythmic behaviours. Phil. Trans. Royal Soc. B.371: 20150057. PMID:26598733,
Tamvacakis AN, Senatore A, Katz PS (2015) Identification of genes related to learning and memory in the brain transcriptome of the mollusc, Hermissenda crassicornis. Learning and Memory. 22(12):617-21 PMID:26572652,
Gunaratne CA and Katz PS (2015) Comparative mapping of GABA-immunoreactive neurons in the buccal ganglia of Nudipleura molluscs. Journal of Comparative Neurology. PMID:26355705, DOI: 10.1002/cne.23895.
Sakurai A., Katz PS (2015) Phylogenetic and individual variation in gastropod central pattern generators. Journal of Comparative Physiology A. E.Pub ahead of print. 10.1007/s00359-015-1007-6 [doi]
Senatore A, Edirisinghe N, Katz PS (2015) Deep mRNA sequencing of the Tritonia diomedea brain transcriptome provides access to gene homologues for neuronal excitability, synaptic transmission and peptidergic signalling. PLoS One. 10(2): e0118321.
Sakurai A, Gunaratne CA, Katz PS (2014) Two interconnected kernels of reciprocally inhibitory interneurons underlie alternating left-right swim motor pattern generation in the mollusc Melibe leonina, Journal of Neurophysiology, Online ahead publication.
Sakurai A, Tamvacakis AN, Katz PS (2014) Hidden synaptic differences in a neural circuit underlie differential behavioral susceptibility to a neural injury, eLife 10.7554/eLife.02598
Katz PS and Lillvis JL (2014) Reconciling the deep homology of neuromodulation with the evolution of behavior, Current Opinion in Neurobiology.29: 39-47.
Gunaratne CA, Sakurai A, and Katz PS (2014) Comparative mapping of GABA-immunoreactive neurons in the central nervous systems of nudibranch molluscs, Journal of Comparative Neurology. 522(4): 794–810.
Lillvis JL and Katz PS (2013) Parallel evolution of serotonergic neuromodulation underlies independent evolution of rhythmic motor behavior. Journal of Neuroscience. 33(6):2709-17. PMID: 23392697 doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4196-12.2013
Newcomb JM, Sakurai A, Lillvis JL, Gunaratne CA, Katz PS (2012) Homology and homoplasy of swim­ming behaviors and neural circuits in the Nudipleura (Mollusca, Gastropoda, Opistho­branchia), Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 1090 Suppl 1:10669-76. PMID: 22723353. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1201877109.
Lillvis JL, Gunaratne CA, Katz PS (2012). Neurochemical and neuroanatomical identification of central pattern generator neuron homologues in Nudipleura molluscs. PLoS One 7 (2):e31737, 2012. PMID: 22363716
Sakurai A, Newcomb JM, Lillvis JL, Katz PS (2011) Different roles for homologous interneurons in species exhibiting similar rhythmic behaviors, Current Biology, 21(12): 1036-1041. PMID: 21620707, doi:10.1016/j.cub.2011.04.040.
Katz PS (2011) Neural mechanisms underlying the evolvability of behavior, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B. 366 (1574): 2086-2099. PMID: 21690127. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2010.0336.
Katz PS (2010) The nature of neuroethology, Brain Behavior and Evolution, 73(3-4): 163-4 PMID: 21088378, DOI: 10.1159/000321719
Katz PS, Calin-Jageman RJ, Dhawan A, Frederick C, Guo S, Dissanayaka R, Hiremath N, .Ma W, Shen X, Wang HC, Yang H, Prasad S, Sunderraman R, Zhu Y (2010) NeuronBank: a tool for cataloging neuronal circuitry. Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience 4:9. PMID: 20428500, doi:10.3389/fnsys.2010.00009
Sakurai A, Katz PS (2009) Functional recovery following lesion of a central pattern generator. Journal of Neuroscience 29(42): 13115-13125. PMID: 19846699.