Our Goal:

We harness cutting-edge circuit and systems approaches to elucidate the intricate neural mechanisms governing emotions and motivated behaviors. By leveraging innovative techniques and insights, we aim to contribute to the development of more effective therapeutic interventions that can improve the lives of individuals facing mental health challenges.

Our Projects:

Neuropeptidergic modulation of emotional processing

Individual differences in addiction vulnerability

How physiological reactions affect emotional states

Our Techniques:

Molecular Genetics

To selectively probe the neuropeptidergic contribution to the circuit without affecting co-released neurotransmitters, we utilize a CRISPR-Cas9 mediated approach to manipulate neuropeptide gene expression and specifically monitor neuropeptide dynamics in vivo using genetically encoded fluorescent peptide-sensors.

See examples:

In vivo Neural Recording

To reveal the functional role of neural circuits and the impact of neuromodulation, we perform in vivo electrophysiological recordings with both bundled electrodes and Neuropixels probes, as well as cellular resolution calcium imaging in freely-moving mice, in combination of optogenetics or CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing.

See examples:

Neuropixels recordings in freely-moving mice
Single-cell calcium imaging

Behavioral Investigation

To study neuropsychiatric diseases in preclinical rodent models, we employ a wide range of behavioral assays, including Pavlovian conditioning, 3-cued discrimination task, reward-punishment conflict task, and cocaine self-administration. In addition, we aim to combine computer vision tools with unsupervised data-driven algorithms for the identification of nuanced behavioral motifs.

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Computational Approach

To gain deeper mechanistic insight into neural activity and behavior, we use computational approaches, including unsupervised clustering, neural trajectory analysis, machine learning-based modeling, and real-time behavioral identification with close-loop stimulation (example videos using AlphaClass, unpublished work).

See examples: