Research Investigates the Effects of “Sugars” on the Brain and Behaviour
Dr Yvette Yolanda Chetty’s PhD study (Physiology) investigated the effects of the illicit drug cocktail known as “Sugars” on the brain and behaviour of animals.
The study revealed interesting findings with regard to memory and hippocampal mass following drug administration as well as the effects of these drugs on hematological factors and anhedonic behaviour. It also noted that in some cases, withdrawal of the drug led to partial reversal of these effects. Since the cocktail was variable in composition, the results were diverse, but ultimately promote understanding of how it exerts its effects and re-enforces addictive behaviour.
Chetty’s master’s supervisor suggested this topic as she had experience in behavioural physiology from her honours degree. Her interest grew after reading more on the topic and meeting with relevant stakeholders. It is also an issue that is close to her heart as the use of “Sugars” is rife in her community of Chatsworth.
‘My goal was to finish my PhD before I turned 30, and I am ecstatic that I did so at 28. My future aspirations are to become a professor and establish a research niche,’ she said.
Like most researchers, Chetty encountered a few hiccups along the way with regard to sourcing samples or research equipment, but together with her supportive supervisors, she handled the challenges as they occurred.
‘Since I studied at UKZN from undergrad level, I developed meaningful relationships with both staff and students and it was almost like working within a family. I am indebted to my supervisors, Dr Anand Nadar and Professor Vassie Naidoo for their expert guidance on my research project as well as helping me to grow as a young academic. They are exceptionally qualified individuals who strive for the best for their students and always go the extra mile to assist.’
Chetty is currently registered for a postgraduate diploma in Higher Education with the IIE which she intends completing in 2022 and is teaching physiology courses to Health Science, Bachelor of Science and Medical students, and supervising an honours’ student at the University of Limpopo.
She thanked her family for their support and was thrilled to be graduating at the same time as her younger twin sisters, Odell (Bachelor of Occupational Health Honours) and Odette (B Comm Accounting Honours) Chetty.
The newly capped Dr Chetty enjoys reading, listening to music, watching series and spending time with her fiancé and family.
Words: Lihle Sosibo