Research in the lab focuses on the structure and function of frontal cortical circuits. We are interested in understanding neural mechanisms in the contexts of voluntary behavior and psychiatric disorders. Many of our experiments involve cellular-resolution optical imaging and head-fixed mouse behavior. We have made progress in two areas:
How do frontal cortical circuits enable flexibility in choice behavior? Prefrontal and premotor cortical regions are hypothesized to exert executive control to guide actions. Still unknown, however, are how internal and external information are processed for action control, how choices are represented by neuronal ensembles, and how signals are routed to other brain regions to influence motor outputs. We designed tasks to assay flexible choice behavior in head-fixed mice, and are performing optical imaging and perturbation studies to understand the neural circuit mechanisms.
Rodent models of depression
We want to understand the impact of chronic stress and antidepressant medications on the frontal cortical circuitry. Because time course of pathophysiology can vary greatly across individual, one of our goals is to perform longitudinal studies. To this end, we are developing cellular-resolution optical imaging methods to capture structural and functional changes to neurons in vivo. In a recent study, we investigated the hypothesis that synaptogenesis mediates effects of fast-acting antidepressants. We used longitudinal two-photon imaging to show that subanesthetic ketamine leads to an elevated rate of spine formation in the mouse medial frontal cortex.