Neural Circuit Basis of Emotion and Mental Disorders
The brain consists of numerous interconnected neurons which form complex and highly ordered neural circuits. The coordinated neural activity of these neural circuits is the basis of higher brain functions such as perception, emotion，decision，memory, learning, and intelligence. Mental disorders defined as disruption in neural circuits (NIMH) cause abnormal thoughts, emotions and behavior, such as schizophrenia, depression, addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder and others, which are recognised as one of the leading global health challenges.
Fear is a basic and highly conserved emotion. Fear circuits and their important implication in understanding human fear and anxiety disorders is an emerging field in emotion and behavior neuroscience research. However, little is known about the cross talk of the neural circuits between the inate fear, learned fear and anxiety.
Dissection of functional neural circuits for fear and anxiety will help us to understand the mechanisms of mental disorders at neural circuit level, also, will lead us to search the identification of biomarkers and novel candidate drug targets, as well as the development of novel mechanism-based cognitive or behavioral interventions for mental disorders.
Research in this laboratory is mainly focused on understanding the neural circuitry basis of emotion and mental disorders. We use a combination of optogenetic probes, in vivo multi-sites electrophysiological recordings, pharmacogenetic manipulations of neuronal activity and virally based trans-synaptic tracing techniques for mapping neural connectivity as well as behavioral expression studies on the mice in order to:
1) determine the structure and function of brain specific neuronal subtypes control specific emotional behavior, including innate fear, learned fear and anxiety;
2) elucidate the modified neural circuits properties in mental disorders, such as schizophrenia, epilepsy and post-traumatic stress disorder;
3) develop new research tools and technologies for functional dissection of neural circuit, which including multi-site opto-electrode array modification techniques, multi-channel electrophysiological recordings in drosophila, neural information decoding of optical modulation and toolkit development.
Our laboratory is the Shenzhen Key Lab of Neuropsychiatric Modulation, also part of the Key lab of Health Informatics of Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Neural Engineering Research Center, Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology of Chinese Academy of Sciences.
1) National Natural Science Foundation of China, under grant number NSFC 91132306;
2)The Ministry of Science and Technology, National Basic Research Program of China under grant number 2010CB529605;
3) Chinese Academy of Sciences, Strategic Priority Research Program (B) (XDB02050003).