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Our list of projects and contact persons
1. The evolution of neural systems underlying the divergence in acoustic communication in crickets: The goal of this project is to understand the ways in which neural systems evolve in response to ecological pressures in the field. The communication system of bush crickets and crickets involves both a call production system and a call reception system, and these involve two very different groups of neurons bound by the same forces of selection, by the requirement of successful communication for mate co-localization for propagation of the species.
1a. We look at this with respect to first quantifying the ecological parameters governing the communication system of Orthopterans (bushcrickets and crickets) from two tropical rainforests of India: Meghalaya and North-East India; and Coorg and the Western Ghats. Aarini Ghosh leads this approach in the lab.
1b. To investigate the neurophysiology and neuroanatomy of the auditory circuitry that receives and processes the call as well as the neural circuit involved in generating the pattern produced by motor cells in the song production circuit. Vivek and Vikrant would be contact persons for joining this part of the work.
2. Zebrafish quantitative and economic cognition: The overall goal of these projects is to examine the ways in which quantitative cognition functions in the zebrafish system.We already have a couple of manuscripts out looking at economic and quantitative cognition, and these projects will take forward this line of research:
2a. Abhishek Singh leads a set of projects looking at economic rationality in zebrafish social decision making relative to decoy effects, and another by Abhishek and Prabhat looks at rational decision making in zebrafish with respect to internal hunger states and social boldness. A lot of undergraduate students have joined this project, and you can contact Abhishek for the same.
2b. A second project led by Nawaf Majeed works on movement perception and quantitative cognition by zebrafish larvae in the context of social decision making as well as foraging and predator evasion.
3. Stress and social choices: The overall goal of this undergraduate-driven set of projects is to look at various forms of physical and social stat ss, of particular interest to Psychology undergraduates, and to explore the ways in which these impact various traits we are interested in zebrafish: learning, social decision making, and foraging behaviour. Here are the specific objectives:
3a. To examine the effect of the outcome of stressful dominance/submissive dyadic interactions on shoal size and foraging: this set of 3 projects looks at the effect of dominance/submission dynamics in dyadic interactions in zebrafish upon shoaling and another project looks at its effect on foraging. A related project looks at the effect of social defeat upon learning. For now Pranati is coordinating data analysis on these projects.
3b. To test the effect of early life stress on pain tolerance and resilience: Two student projects look into neuroinflammation and the relationship between stress and pain tolerance. The first ASP project by Sushmita Anant implements a chronic unpredictable early life stress protocol to look into the mechanisms behind stress-induced analgesia and resilience in zebrafish larvae, and the other ASP project by Aashka Shah studies the impact of chronic social isolation in zebrafish.
3c. To quantify the ecological dis/advantages and metabolic markers of depressive behaviour: A team of Arpita, Pranaya, Pankhudi and Aryan are looking into the ecological and metabolic markers of depressive and aggressive behaviour, using respirometry and reproductive fitness to also quantify the ecological costs and benefits of different behavioural strategies in zebrafish.
3d. To quantify optimism bias in an animal model and set up an assay for how various factors influence that bias: this is an ASP thesis by Snigdhaa.
4. The Dognition (dog cognition) project which looks at quantitative and numerical cognition in dogs - this will soon be active over the winter and most summers. Ani is the contact person for this.
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