Podcast: David Anderson on Social Behaviors & Career Pivots

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There’s been a predominant view in neuroscience that behaviors like aggression in mice are hard-wired in the brain, especially in deep brain structures such as the hypothalamus. Through the use of Inscopix technology, Dr. David Anderson’s group at Caltech has been able to present evidence that development of aggressive or mating behavior, and the neural ensembles which mediate the behaviors, depend upon social experience. In this podcast, he talks about this remarkable work and his lab’s latest study published in Cell on a neurobiological basis of aggression after social isolation. He unpacks the ramifications of this study both for neuroscience and our understanding of human behavior.

Throughout his career, his research has spanned the gamut from stem cells to naturalistic behaviors and neural circuits, putting him in a unique position to give advice on making career pivots. In addition to his advice on making changes in your research direction, we also get to know him better, as he tells us about his own personality traits which have led to his many scientific successes. Finally, he tells us what he’s learned from some of his extraordinary Nobel-Prize-winning mentors. It was an honor and treat to speak with such an amazing neuroscientist.

Here are time codes if you want to jump to a particular section:

1:00 – Unanswered questions in neuroscience

02:43 – Studying social behaviors and experience-dependent influences on neural circuits

12:21 – The neurobiology of social isolation and aggressive behavior

24:33 – Personality traits crucial to David’s scientific successes

27:08 – Career pivots and advice to young neuroscientists

30:06 – What David learned from two of his mentors, Nobel Laureates Gunter Blobel and Richard Axel

Happy Listening!

Jami and Pushkar

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