Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute
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Associate Professor (Research) of Neurology
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsWe study the role of oxygen free radicals in oxidative tissue damage and degeneration. Our research tools include transgenic and knockout mice and tissue culture cells for in vitro gene expression.
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.
Professor of Neurology and, by courtesy, of Molecular and Cellular Physiology
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsWe are interested in the neuronal mechanisms that underlie synchronous oscillatory activity in the thalamus, cortex and the massively interconnected thalamocortical system. Such oscillations are related to cognitive processes, normal sleep activities and certain forms of epilepsy. Our approach is an analysis of the discrete components (cells, synapses, microcircuits) that make up thalamic and cortical circuits, and reconstitution of components into in silico computational networks.
Esther Ting Memorial ProfessorOn Leave from 11/01/2023 To 12/01/2023
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsDr. Humphreys researches individual and societal level interventions for addictive and psychiatric disorders. He focuses particularly on evaluating the outcomes of professionally-administered treatments and peer-operated self-help groups (e.g., Alcoholics Anonymous), and, analyzing the impact of public policies touching addiction, mental health, public health, and public safety.
Assistant Professor of Molecular and Cellular Physiology
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsMy group deciphers how G protein-coupled receptors decode extracellular cues into dynamic and context-specific cellular signaling networks to elicit diverse physiologic responses. We exploit quantitative proteomics to capture the spatiotemporal organization of signaling networks combined with functional genomics to study their impact on physiology.