University of Chicago Big Ideas Generator


Big Question: The relationship between the behavioral and physiological immune systems

University of Chicago Big Questions

Principal Investigator: Greg Norman, Psychology

Funding Type: Seed

Focus Area: Complexity

Project: Individuals are exposed to a constant barrage of internal and external stressors, ranging from day-to-day social stress to the threats associated with infection and disease. The nervous system is in continuous reciprocal communication with the immune system and this allows for organized physiological and behavioral responses to potential sources of infection. However, it remains unclear whether the neural and behavioral response to potential infection varies based on the type of pathogen threat the organism is exposed to (e.g. bacterial vs. viral). This proposal will explore the ability of non-human animals to differentiate stimuli from conspecifics that have been exposed to compounds simulating a viral or a bacterial infection, and the potential influence of social interactions on the behavioral response to these pathogens cues. Such research has the potential to provide insight into the relationship between the neurobehavioral mechanisms underlying pathogen avoidance and serve as a basis for future work on interactions between the nervous and immune systems.

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