Neurobiology for Social Touch, From Mice to Naked Mole Rats

  • Speaker
  • Ishmail Adbus-Saboor, Ph.D.Associate Professor of Biological Sciences
    Principal Investigator, Columbia's Zuckerman Institute University , Columbia University
Date & Time

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Our skin isn’t just a protective covering; it’s a way to sense the world around us. Our brains and skin are closely connected and constantly communicate. Studying how the brain generates the perception of pain and pleasure based on stimuli applied to our skin can help reveal how our sense of touch affects our social connections.

In this Presidential Lecture, Ishmail Abdus-Saboor will present his lab’s work identifying sensory neurons in mice’s skin that engage the brain’s dopaminergic reward center, thus driving a socially rewarding touch. Alongside work in the mouse, he will also present studies on the East African naked mole-rat, one of the most social mammals. Abdus-Saboor will discuss new work on this non-model organism, revealing signatures of eusociality and social touch communication. Together, the findings offer fresh insights into the brain-body connection.

About the Speaker

Abdus-Saboor is an associate professor and principal investigator at Columbia University’s Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute. His lab is integrating the peripheral and central nervous systems to uncover genes and neural circuits for somatosensation from the skin to the spinal cord and brain. He and his team are also interested in how disease states like chronic pain, stress and cancer affect the encoding of somatosensation. Since opening his lab in July 2018, he has received generous support for his research, including an NIH Pathway to Independence Award and an NIH Director’s New Innovator Award.

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