【Our research interests】

1. Functions of glutamate transporters on the brain

Glutamate is a major excitatory neurotransmitter and plays an important role in neuronal plasticity and neurotoxicity in the central nervous system. Glutamate transport proteins provide the mechanism by which synaptically released glutamate is inactivated and kept below toxic levels in the extracellular space.

By now, five subtypes of high-affinity glutamate transporters have been identified in the mammalian central nervous system: GLT1, GLAST, EAAC1, EAAT4 and EAAT5. Our lab studies the physiological and pathological roles of glutamate transporter subtypes in the brain by combining molecular genetics, physiological and behavioral methods.

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2. Functional roles of glial cells in the brain

The central nervous system (CNS) houses two main kinds of cells, neurons and glia. According to the classical view of the CNS, glial cells merely provide structural and trophic support for neurons. Recent studies suggest that the active brain should no longer be regarded as a circuity of neuronal contacts, but as an integrated network of interactive neurons and glia.

Our lab studies the roles of glia-neuron interactions in brain development, higher brain function and mental diseases.

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3. Neural mechanism underlying adaptive animal behaviors under stress

The animals shows alternative behaviors, i.e., active (e.g., exploration and struggling) and passive coping (e.g., freezing and avoidance) under the acute and chronic stress. We begin to understand a role of monoamines such as dopamine and serotonin underlying the shift between those two different strategy to adapt to the environmental challenges.

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