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Our laboratory studies cooperative behavior in the highly social naked mole-rat.

We use automated approaches in a laboratory housing enviornment to monitor movement, social interaction and object manipulation.

We utilize the CUNY High Performance Computing Center for data analytics on these measures.

These approaches allow us to identify individual differences in social behavior which can be used to measure neural correlates.

Some Current Projects

Some Current Projects
  1. RFID Tracking

    Tracking naked mole-rats, bedding objects, food items and pups using radio-frequency identification allows us to measure the level of coopertive behavior performed by each animal in a colony with high spatial and temporal resolution.
    Work performed by: Michael Zions, Tatsiana Dzedzits, Andrew Fulmer, Margherita Sansone, Lauren Overeem, Michael Stendardi

  2. Animal Interaction

    Using microcontrollers RFID and specialized cameras we can alter access to areas of the housing environment and individualize animal experiences.This allows for experimental manipulation of individual animals within the larger colony.
    Work performed by: Michael Zions, Lauren Overeem, Matthew Vuotto, Patrick Kettyle, Mikhail Tannis

  3. Animal Conversation

    Using a combination of RFID, audio devices, and microcontrollers we can collect vocal signatures for every unique pair of naked mole-rats in a colony. These measures allow us to understand the individual recogntion and behavior patterns as they relate to hierarchy and social groups.
    Work performed by: Katherine Thompson, Shannon Yasuda

Video of naked mole-rats in our laboratory



We use electrophysiological tools to monitor neuron function from the level of the isolated single cell to the whole brain.

Our methods range from patch clamp measures on cultured neurons through single channel and multi-channel recording of acutely isolated brain regions, to EEG in awake moving animals.

These approaches allow us to identify cell and curcuit level differences related to the seizure-proneness of naked mole-rats, and will eventually allow us to measure neural function related to social behavior.

Some Current Projects

Some Current Projects
  1. Hippocampal epileptiform burst discharges

    Using single and multi-channel array recordings from acutely isolated naked mole-rat hippocampus, we measure spontaneous epileptiform burst discharges originating from the CA3 region. Our premininary work suggests this may arise in relation to an enhanced backprojection of CA3 neurons to the dentate gyrus.
    Work performed by: Michael Zions, Patrick Kettyle

  2. Isolated Whole Brain Recording

    The basal brain vasculature and hypoxia tolerance of the naked mole-rat allows for recording of the isolated anesthetized whole brain. This allows for large scale network mapping of brain circuits.
    Work performed by: Tatyana Budylin, Donald Thevalingam

  3. EEG Recording

    Surface and depth electrode recordings allow for the measurement of seizure frequencty and the electrophysiological signatures of social behaviors
    Work performed by:Michael Zions, Tatsiana Dzedzits, Xavier Geoffroy

Video of epileptiform bursting slice



Using unbiased sampling and 3D reconstruction of confocal image stacks we measure structures of interest in the study of the social behavior and epilepsy.

Additional use of new high throughput quantitatie anatomy techniques allows for rapid estimates of total neuron number in specific brain regions.

Computational data mining approaches allow for analyses and cross-species comparison based on publicly available datasets.

Some Current Projects

Some Current Projects
  1. Protein Immunocytochemistry

    Using confocal microscopy and 3D reconstruction of traditionally processed and Golgi-stained neuronal tissue, we can estimate the density of structures an proteind relevant to social behavior and epilepsy.
    Work performed by: Tatsiana Dzedzits, Kunzah Syed, Victoria Castagna, Keegan Fernandes,Naomi Gaggi, Berlinda Dzakpau

  2. High throughput quantitative neuroanatomy

    Using high throughput quantitative measuremnets of neuronal nuclei co-labled with other factors, we can estimate the neuron number, neuron/glia ration, and proportion of active neurons in response to behavioral manipulation
    Work performed by: Jeff Gueorguiev

  3. Brain image data mining

    Refining computational tools allows for the detection of neuron location in massive image sets of the whole brain. With cooridnate location information, we can create anatomically accurate neuron level whole brain maps.
    Work performed by: Tatsiana Dzedzits, Patrick Kettyle

Interactive 3D Human Brain

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