The nervous system is exquisitely tuned to mount the appropriate behavioral response to sensory stimuli ranging from a gentle caress to a harsh mechanical insult. How our nervous systems encode this information, from the level of sensory neuron activation in peripheral tissues up towards the central nervous system, in both normal and diseased states, remains enigmatic. Taking advantage of mouse molecular and genetic tools, the Abdus-Saboor lab is addressing important questions about sensory system perception – from the level of the gene to the level of organismal behavior. Using an integrative approach spanning molecular optogenetics and chemogenetics, automated tracking of behavior coupled with high-speed videography, viral circuit tracing, calcium imaging in dissociated neurons and intact animals, and whole-cell and slice patch clamp physiology, our overall goal is to increase our basic understanding of the mechanisms governing encoding of somatosensory stimuli.