Brain circuits mediating negative emotions


November 8, 2016 - 12:00pm - 1:00pm
Northwest 243
About the Speaker
Xiaoke Chen
Speaker Affiliation: 
Stanford University


Our long-term goal is to understand how brain circuits mediate motivated behaviors and how maladaptive change in these circuits lead to neuropsychiatric disorders.  We currently focus on study external or internal threat induced negative emotions, which is critical for animal’s well-being and survival.  Ample evidence suggests an evolutionarily conserved neuronal network that underlying the sense and interprets negative emotions.  Moreover, exaggerate emotional responses to aversive stimuli is a common feature in mental disorders such as depression and PTSD. Thus, by examining the maladaptive changes in this neuronal network in animal models of mental disorders, we might provide novel insight for treating these devastating disorders.  In this talk, I will discuss negative emotions caused by somatic and visceral stress.  We developed a novel in vivo two-photon imaging platform to study how pain information is encoded in the spinal cord.  Using opiate withdrawal as a model to induce strong visceral stress, we identified a thalamic circuitry that is essential for physical and emotional withdrawal responses.