Neural mechanism of depression and social hierarchy


October 11, 2017 - 1:00pm
Northwest Building, Room 243
About the Speaker
Hailan Hu
Speaker Title: 
Speaker Affiliation: 
Zhejiang University School of Medicine

I will talk about two lines of research from my lab: neural mechanism of social hierarchy and the antidepressant mechanism of ketamine.

Dominance hierarchy has a great impact on societal function and individuals’ life quality. The social economic status has been identified as the single strongest predictor of health. Getting to the top of the social hierarchy is not simply determined by brute strength, but by personality traits such as grit, and social experience such as history of winning or losing. We discovered that the social hierarchical status of the animal correlates with the synaptic strength in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) neurons. mPFC-based neural circuitry also underlies the winner effect, where animals increase their chance of victory after repeated winning. I will present our latest progress on optogenetical control of dominance hierarchy.

The discovery of the rapid antidepressant effects of the NMDA receptor antagonist ketamine is arguably the most significant advance in the field of psychiatry in the last half century. But the mechanism of how ketamine elevates mood so quickly has remained elusive. The rapid “hit-and-go” temporal profile of ketamine suggests that ketamine is likely to act on a system that is tonically in action and has NMDAR channels open. In this talk, I will present data to show how ketamine acts on brain’s anti-reward center, the lateral habenula (LHb), to regulate mood and depression.