Indian-American Neuroscientist receives USD 867,000 grant
A US research agency has awarded an Indian American neuroscientist, Khaleel Rezak, a five year USD 866902 CAREER grant
Houston (US): A US research agency has awarded an Indian American neuroscientist, Khaleel Rezak, a five year USD 866902 Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) grant for further research on his projects.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded Rezak for his research on how the brain processes everyday sounds may lead to therapies for age-related hearing problems and Fragile X Syndrome (FXS).
Originally from Chennai, Razak, is an assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of California, Riverside (UCR).
His lab at UCR focuses on how the auditory brain processes behaviorally relevant sounds and how those mechanisms are altered by developmental experience, disease and ageing.
The NSF grant will specifically support research on how the auditory cortex of the brain processes information about sound locations.
The NSF funding will also allow Razak to investigate the neural computations that generate cortical maps underlying sound localization behavior in the pallid bat.
“Behavioral studies indicate the pallid bat can localize sounds with an accuracy of about 2 degrees,” he said.
Pallid bats and humans appear to process sound locations similarly, calculating direction via intra-cortical networks that are little understood.
The project will provide fundamental insights on how intra-cortical networks shape feature detectors and maps.
In addition to basic sound localization mechanisms, Razak’s research also focuses on mouse models of ageing and Fragile X Syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder.
Age-related hearing loss is the most preventable hearing-related problem in the world, the neuroscientist explained.
This problem gets more acute in difficult listening conditions such as a noisy room. While hearing aids amplify sound, they don’t improve speech recognition because the brain itself has changed, Razak added.
“Impaired speech recognition may lead to isolation and reduce cognitive abilities,” he said.
“We hope to identify the neuron types that seem to be lost or changed during ageing. There may be combinations of behavioral or pharmacological therapies that could delay or prevent these changes. But we need to characterize the age-related changes first.”