Neural Mechanism of Social Behavior
Research in my laboratory broadly focuses on understanding the neural circuit mechanisms underlying social behaviors and their dysregulations in neuropsychiatric disorders. Humans are an exquisitely social species; we live in a world that is largely socially constructed, and are constantly involved in and fundamentally influenced by a broad array of complex social interactions. Social behaviors among conspecifics, either conflictive or cooperative, are exhibited by a wide range of animal species and are of ubiquitous adaptive value; many social behaviors, such as aggression, pair bonding, and mating, are essential for the health, survival, and reproduction of animals. Conversely, social behaviors displayed at inappropriate time or place or of inappropriate intensity can have detrimental effects on both the individuals and a social group as a whole. Impairment in social function is a prominent feature of several neuropsychiatric disorders, such as autism and schizophrenia. Despite its importance, many fundamental questions regarding the neural mechanisms underlying social behavior and its disorders still remain unanswered. One central question is how neural circuits, important computing units in the brain composed of interconnected neurons, process and integrate information for the decision and execution of specific social behaviors. We are applying the state-of-the-art technology to investigating neural circuits across multiple levels and interrogate fundamental questions regarding the functional organization of neural circuitries underlying social behaviors and their disturbances in neuropsychiatric disorders.