Research Themes

IlyaChen.jpgAddiction & Reward

Understanding the function of brain systems and circuitries involved in reward under both normal and pathophysiological circumstances, and to determine how these systems and circuitries malfunction in substance use disorders.

Circadian Rhythms & Sleep

This group seeks to (i) investigate the fundamental neural underpinnings, including the timekeeping mechanisms in circadian pacemakers, that govern sleep-wake and circadian behavior and influence neuroendocrine and metabolic daily rhythms; (ii) elucidate the impact of the circadian and sleep systems on health and disease through studying its contribution to brain conditions such as cerebrovascular disease, neurodevelopmental disorders, mood disorders, epilepsy, and metabolic disorders; and (iii) translate basic knowledge of circadian and sleep mechanisms into successful treatments for brain conditions.

 

Cognitive Neuroscience

The study of how brain systems enable cognition and consciousness.

 

Computational Neuroscience & Neuroengineering

This group is interested in the intersection of neuroscience, computation, and engineering. Specific focusses include: 1) using mathematical models constrained by neural data to elucidate how specific computations are implemented in the brain, 2) developing technologies and approaches to readout the brain code (EEG, electrophysiology, fMRI, optical imaging) and to influence brain function via external stimulation methods (TMS, electrical microstimulation, pulsed laser stimulation, optogenetic stimulation), 3) developing brain-machine interfaces, and 4) applying such methodologies to treatment of clinical disease.

 

Developmental Neuroscience

The Developmental Neuroscience group of investigators shares a common goal of understanding the genetic, molecular, cellular and system mechanisms involved in the development of the nervous system, and how these processes are altered by mutations, environmental factors and gene-environment interactions. In addition, we seek to understand the structural, functional and clinical outcomes of altered neurodevelopment, which can lead to neural disorders and disabilities.

 

Educational Neuroscience 

Bringing together knowledge from the fields of neuroscience and education to yield important insights into the neural systems supporting learning, and, ultimately, how to best teach children.

 

Law & Society

This group is interested in the intersection between neuroscience and disciplines of law, ethics, philosophy and economic.  Its two aims are: 1) to bring methodological and conceptual approaches from neuroscience to bear on brain processes that are central to these disciplines (such as legal, moral, and economic reasoning and decision making); and 2) to explore reactions from these disciplines to neuroscientific developments.  

 

Learning & Memory 

This group uses cellular, molecular, systems, and cognitive neuroscience approaches to understand how memories are acquired, retained, and retrieved.  In addition, this group is interested in learning and memory deficits in clinical populations.

 

Mood, Anxiety & Psychosis 

Understanding how altered brain development, signaling and plasticity drive risk for neuropsychiatric disorders and present opportunities for improved diagnosis and treatment.

 

Neurodegeneration &  Neuroinflamation

This group shares a common mission of providing a dynamic collaborative environment to delineate mechanisms of pathogenesis and develop means to protect and restore cellular function with the goal of improving clinical outcomes.  Studies are focusing on the cellular and molecular processes underlying degeneration and inflammation in neurons, glia, neuroglial interactions and neuroimmune communication in both normal and pathophysiological processes. Our investigational approaches range from in vitro cell autonomous and system level integration to in vivo animal models and clinical studies in areas that span genetic, metabolic and environmental agents (infectious and toxic) involved in disease procesess and include the discovery of novel therapeutic agents and their implementation in clinical trials.

 

Synaptic Function and Neuroendocrine Signaling

Nervous system function depends on precisely controlled communication between neurons in the CNS and with other tissues, medicated by diverse chemical andelectrical signals. This group of investigators studies the cellular and molecular basis for this communication at multiple levels, from the structure and function of the receptors, ion channels and transporters in the plasma membrane, to the intracellular signaling cascades that respond to these stimuli to initiate modifications of nervous system function. The ultimate goals are to understand normal physiological processes and how these are disrupted in disease by genetic or other mechanisms, as well as to identify viable strategies to treat diverse neurological and psychiatric disorders.

 

Sensory & Motor Neuroscience

The Sensory and Motor Neuroscience community of investigators share a common goal of understanding how the brain codes sensations and translates sensations (e.g., vision, audition, touch, gustation and olfaction) into perception and how perceptions are linked to decisions and motor actions.  Also of special interest to this group are the development, evolution and plasticity of sensory and motor systems both under normal conditions and following injury or disease.  The approaches and specific questions addressed by this group are diverse but at the core concern basic understanding of the fundamental principles of brain wiring and coding for sensory-motor links.