Neuronal and genetic imprints of male mating experience

We understand a lot about how the brain gets rewired when learning a new skill by repetitive practice, such as hitting a curveball. However, how learning and experience alter the innate behaviors that we are born with is poorly understood. I have found that the reproductive performance of a male mouse improves dramatically following mating experience. I hypothesize this improvement requires rewiring that strengthens specific connections in the brain. I will test my hypothesis by examining brain wiring and connection strength before and after mating experience, and identifying the genes responsible for this rewiring, and by testing how these genes facilitate rewiring and better performance. To help me succeed, I have assembled an interdisciplinary mentorship team, comprised of world-class experts in neuroscience, electronic engineering, and evolutionary biology of brain rewiring. In the long run, my work has the potential to help patients with low libido from aging or disease, and it may be hugely beneficial for conservation of endangered species.

Project Details

Funding Type:

Interdisciplinary Scholar Award

Award Year:


Lead Researcher(s):

Team Members:

Nirao Shah (Sponsor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences)
Kang Shen (Sponsor, Biology)