Arnab Barik

Assistant Professor

Phone: +91 80 2293 2904
E-Mail: arnabbarik[at]iisc.ac.in
Barik Lab Website
Google Scholar

Research Areas

Neurobiology of Pain and Itch

Research Details

How does the nervous system sense, perceive, and respond to pain and itch? We use genetic and behavioral techniques in mice to uncover the molecules, cells, and circuits underlying pain and itch.

Major Questions:

How does our brain direct defensive responses to noxious stimuli?

Stepping barefoot on a pin is excruciatingly painful and evokes an intense and immediate physical reaction as well as an emotional response. We rub our feet where it hurts, we scream in pain, we move away from the spot to avoid experiencing the pain a second time. We also remember the spot on the floor where the pin was, and we try to avoid walking there again until we know there are no more pins lying around. In essence, all of our physical and mental capacities are overtaken momentarily by a relatively inconsequential event. In our laboratory, we seek to understand how small groups of neurons in the brain are able to drive specific aspects of such defensive behaviors. How do these neurons receive the painful information? What are the molecular characteristics of these neurons? What are their anatomical architectures?  How do these neurons communicate with the rest of the nervous system? We intend to answer these questions by taking advantage of molecular and optical tools to manipulate behavior, map circuits, and record neural activity in mice.

How are the maladaptive mechanisms underlying chronic pain and itch?

Pain and itch are fundamentally protective in nature. However, these useful protective mechanisms can become a burden if the pain or itch becomes chronic. When and where these otherwise beneficial mechanisms become pathologic remains poorly understood. In our laboratory, we study how these conditions might be linked to alteration in the brain neurons in terms of connectivity, molecular composition, and activity.


Barik A, Zhang B, Sohal GS, Xiong WC, Mei L, Crosstalk between Agrin and Wnt signaling pathways in the development of vertebrate neuromuscular junction. Developmental Neurobiology. 2014. 74(8):828-38

Barik A, Krashes M, Remembering a bad taste. Neuron. 2018. 100 (4), 765-767.

Barik A, Chesler A, Parallel Parabrachial pathways provide pieces of the pain puzzle. Neuron. 2020. 106(6), 873-75.

Book Chapters

Barik A, Xiong WC, Mei L, MuSK: A kinase critical for the formation and maintenance of the neuromuscular junction. Protein Kinase Technologies, Neuromethods. 2012. 68:203-217.


Shah P.D.,Sharma R. P., Agarwal R., Barik A., (2024), A septo-hypothalamic-medullary circuit directs stress-induced analgesia, eLife

Prannay Reddy, Jayesh Vasudeva, Devanshi Shah, Jagat Narayan Prajapati, Nikhila Harikumar, Arnab Barik. , (2023), A Deep-Learning Driven Investigation of the Circuit Basis for Reflexive Hypersensitivity to Thermal Pain, Neuroscience, 530, 158-172

Devanshi Piyush Shah and Arnab Barik, (2022), The Spino-Parabrachial Pathway for Itch, Front Neural Circuits, v.16

A Barik, A Sathyamurthy, JH Thompson, M Seltzer, AJ Levine, AT Chesler, (2021), A spinoparabrachial circuit defined by Tacr1 expression drives pain, Elife , 10, e61135.

Sathyamurthy A, Barik A, Dobrott CI, Matson KJE, Stoica S, Pursley R, Chesler A, Levine AJ, (2020), Direct Cerebellospinal Pathways Regulate Motor Performance and Motor Learning, Cell Reports, 31(6), 107595

Barik A, Thompson J, Seltzer M, Sathyamurthy A, Chesler A, (2020), spinoparabrachial circuit defined by Tacr1 expression drives pain, Biorxiv

Kozlitina J, Risso D, Lansu K, Olsen RHJ, Sainz E, Luiselli D, Barik A, Frigerio-Domingues C, Pagani L, Wooding S, Kirchner T, Niaura R, Roth B, Drayna D, (2019), An African-specific haplotype in MRGPRX4 is associated with menthol cigarette smoking, PLoS Genetics, 15(2), e1007916

Solinski HR, Kriegbaum MC, Tseng PY, Earnest TW, Sainz E, Gu X, Barik A, Chesler AT, Hoon MA, (2019), Nppb Neurons Are Sensors of Mast Cell-Induced Itch, Cell Reports, 26(13), 3561-3573.

Lin, T. W., Tan, Z., Barik, A., Yin, D. M., Brudvik, E., Wang, H., ... & Mei, L, (2018), Regulation of synapse development by Vgat deletion from ErbB4-positive interneurons, Journal of Neuroscience, 38(10), 2533-2550.

Szczot, M., Liljencrantz, J., Ghitani, N., Barik, A., Lam, R., Thompson, J. H., ... & Foley, A. R, (2018), PIEZO2 mediates injury-induced tactile pain in mice and humans, Science translational medicine, 10(462).

Barik A, Thompson J, Seltzer M, Ghitani N, Chesler A, (2018), A brainstem-spinal circuit controlling nocifensive behavior, Neuron, 100(6), 1491-1503.

Ghitani N*, Barik A*, Szczot M*, Thompson J, Li C, Le Pichon C, Krashes M, Chesler A, (2017), Specialized mechanosensory nociceptors mediating rapid responses to hair pull, Neuron, 95, 944-954.

Sun X-D, Li L, Huang Z-H, Bean J.C., Jiao H-F, Barik A, Kim S-M, Liu F, Wu H, Shen C, Tian Y, Lin T.W., Bates R, Sathyamurthy A, Chen Y-J, Yin D-M, Xiong L, Lin H-P, Hu J-X, Li B-M, Gao T-M, Xiong W-C, Mei L,, (2016), Lrp4 in astrocytes modulates glutamatergic transmission, Nature Neuroscience, 19, 1010–1018.

Barik A*, Li L*, Sathyamurthy A, Figueredo D, Xiong WC, Mei L, (2016), Schwann cells in neuromuscular junction formation and maintenance, Journal of Neuroscience, 36(38), 9770-9781.

Li L, Cao Yu, Wu H, Ye X, Shen C, Barik A, Xie X, Gan L, Xiong W-C, Mei L, (2016), Enzymatic Activity of the Scaffold Protein Rapsyn for Synapse Formation, Neuron, 92(5), 1007-1019.

Sathyamurthy A, Yin D, Barik A, Shen C, Bean JC, Figueiredo D, She JX, Xiong WC, Mei L, (2015), ERBB3-mediated regulation of Bergmann glia proliferation in cerebellar amination, Development, 142(3), 522-32.

Wu H *, Barik A *, Lu Y, Li L, Shen C, Bowman A, Sathyamurthy A, Lin T.W., Shen C, Xiong WC, Mei L, (2015), Slit2 as a β-catenin/Ctnnb1-dependent retrograde signal for presynaptic differentiation, eLife, 4, e07266.

Barik A*, Lu Y*, Sathyamurthy A, Bowman A, Shen C, Xiong WC, Mei L,, (2014), LRP4 is critical for neuromuscular junction maintenance, Journal of Neuroscience, 34(42), 13892-13905.

Shen C, Lu Y, Zhang B, Figueiredo D, Bean J, Jung J, Wu H, Barik A, Yin DM, Xiong WC, Mei L, (2013), Antibodies against low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein 4 induce myasthenia gravis, Journal of Clinical Investigation, 123(12), 5190- 5202.

Wu H, Lu Y, Barik A, Joseph A, Taketo MM, Xiong WC, Mei L, (2012), β-Catenin gain of function in muscles impairs neuromuscular junction formation, Development, 139(13), 2392-2404.