- BSc, Agriculture; Rajasthan Agricultural University, India.
- MSc, Microbial ecology; Indian Agricultural research Institute, India.
- PhD, Neurobiology of stress response; National Center of Biological Research, India.
- Postdoctoral, Neurobiology of fatal attraction; Stanford University, USA.
The Ethoneuro Laboratory is a multidisciplinary research laboratory that works at the interface of neurobiology (approach and avoidance behaviors) and parasitology (behavioural manipulation of host by parasites). Majority of the work will relate to behavioral manipulation of rodents by Toxoplasma.
We are a research group within School of Biological Sciences at NTU. We are situated in the warm and welcoming environs of Singapore.
Fear and attraction are evolutionary ancient parts of our psyche. Using animal models, we study how brain brings about these; and what happens when they get mixed up!
Our research program is inspired the fact that a parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, can invade rat brain and removes deep-seated fears from a rat’s psyche. Why? So that parasite can hitch-hike a ride to cat intestines (when fearless rat is eaten by the cat) and reproduce there. This paradigm allows access to a really specific perturbation system for fear. In our lab, we try to learn how this parasite manages to make rats fearless.
Recently, we have observed that female rats prefer males infected with Toxoplasma over run-of-the-mill uninfected animals. This is interesting because females usually detect and detest parasitized males. A male teeming with parasites is infected because he likely has a poor immune defense, and thus a questionable genetic legacy. The fact that Toxoplasma can get around such evolutionary hard-wired behavior is exciting. We are now trying to learn the mechanisms of this effect.