Wu Tsai Human Performance Alliance
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Associate Professor (Research) of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences (Interdisciplinary Brain Science Research)
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsOur lab’s research portfolio crosses multiple disciplines including computational neuropsychiatry, cognitive neuroscience, multimodal neuroimaging and neurocognitive rehabilitation. Our computational neuropsychiatry research mainly involves investigating alterations in the organization of connectome in various neurodevelopmental and neurocognitive disorders using state of the art neuroimaging techniques (fMRI, sMRI, DWI, functional NIRS) combined with novel computational methods (graph theoretical and multivariate pattern analyses).
The ultimate goal of our research is to translate the findings from computational neuropsychiatry research toward developing personalized interventions. We have been developing personalized interventions that integrate computerized cognitive rehabilitation, real-time functional brain imaging and neurofeedback, as well as virtual reality (VR) tailored toward targeted rehabilitation of the affected brain networks in patients with neurocognitive disorders.
Professor of Bioengineering and of Microbiology and Immunology
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsHow do cells determine their shape and grow?
How do molecules inside cells get to the right place at the right time?
Our group tries to answer these questions using a systems biology approach, in which we integrate interacting networks of protein and lipids with the physical forces determined by the spatial geometry of the cell. We use theoretical and computational techniques to make predictions that we can verify experimentally using synthetic, chemical, or genetic perturbations.
Ngan F. Huang
Associate Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery (Cardiothoracic Surgery Research) and, by courtesy, of Chemical Engineering
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsDr. Huang's laboratory aims to understand the chemical and mechanical interactions between extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins and pluripotent stem cells that regulate vascular and myogenic differentiation. The fundamental insights of cell-matrix interactions are applied towards stem cell-based therapies with respect to improving cell survival and regenerative capacity, as well as engineered vascularized tissues for therapeutic transplantation.
Andrew D. Huberman
Associate Professor of Neurobiology and, by courtesy, of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsIn 2017, we developed a virtual reality platform to investigate the neural and autonomic mechanisms contributing to fear and anxiety. That involved capturing 360-degree videos of various fear-provoking situations in real life for in-lab VR movies, such as heights and claustrophobia, as well as unusual scenarios like swimming in open water with great white sharks. The primary objective of our VR platform is to develop new tools to help people better manage stress, anxiety and phobias in real-time, as an augment to in-clinic therapies.
In May 2018, we reported the discovery of two novel mammalian brain circuits as a Research Article published in Nature. One circuit promotes fear and anxiety-induced paralysis, while the other fosters confrontational reactions to threats. This led to ongoing research into the involvement of these brain regions in anxiety-related disorders such as phobias and generalized anxiety in humans.
In 2020, we embarked on a collaborative effort with Dr. David Spiegel's laboratory in the Stanford Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, aimed to explore how specific respiration patterns synergize with the visual system to influence autonomic arousal and stress, and other brain states, including sleep.
In 2023, the first results of that collaboration were published as a randomized controlled trial in Cell Reports Medicine, demonstrating that specific brief patterns of deliberate respiration are particularly effective in alleviating stress and enhancing mood, and improving sleep.
In a 2021, our collaboration with Dr. Edward Chang, professor and chair of the Department of Neurological Surgery at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), was published in Current Biology, revealing that specific patterns of insular cortex neural activity may be linked to, and potentially predict, anxiety responses.