Professional Education

  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of California Santa Cruz (2019)
  • Bachelor of Science, University of California Irvine (2011)
  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of California, Santa Cruz, Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology (2019)

Stanford Advisors

  • Lu Chen, Postdoctoral Faculty Sponsor

All Publications

  • An analog of psychedelics restores functional neural circuits disrupted by unpredictable stress. Molecular psychiatry Lu, J., Tjia, M., Mullen, B., Cao, B., Lukasiewicz, K., Shah-Morales, S., Weiser, S., Cameron, L. P., Olson, D. E., Chen, L., Zuo, Y. 2021


    Psychological stress affects a wide spectrum of brain functions and poses risks for many mental disorders. However, effective therapeutics to alleviate or revert its deleterious effects are lacking. A recently synthesized psychedelic analog tabernanthalog (TBG) has demonstrated anti-addictive and antidepressant potential. Whether TBG can rescue stress-induced affective, sensory, and cognitive deficits, and how it may achieve such effects by modulating neural circuits, remain unknown. Here we show that in mice exposed to unpredictable mild stress (UMS), administration of a single dose of TBG decreases their anxiety level and rescues deficits in sensory processing as well as in cognitive flexibility. Post-stress TBG treatment promotes the regrowth of excitatory neuron dendritic spines lost during UMS, decreases the baseline neuronal activity, and enhances whisking-modulation of neuronal activity in the somatosensory cortex. Moreover, calcium imaging in head-fixed mice performing a whisker-dependent texture discrimination task shows that novel textures elicit responses from a greater proportion of neurons in the somatosensory cortex than do familiar textures. Such differential response is diminished by UMS and is restored by TBG. Together, our study reveals the effects of UMS on cortical neuronal circuit activity patterns and demonstrate that TBG combats the detrimental effects of stress by modulating basal and stimulus-dependent neural activity in cortical networks.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41380-021-01159-1

    View details for PubMedID 34035476

  • Postnatal Ablation of Synaptic Retinoic Acid Signaling Impairs Cortical Information Processing and Sensory Discrimination in Mice JOURNAL OF NEUROSCIENCE Park, E., Tjia, M., Zuo, Y., Chen, L. 2018; 38 (23): S277–S288
  • Pyramidal Neurons in Different Cortical Layers Exhibit Distinct Dynamics and Plasticity of Apical Dendritic Spines FRONTIERS IN NEURAL CIRCUITS Tjia, M., Yu, X., Jammu, L. S., Lu, J., Zuo, Y. 2017; 11: 43


    The mammalian cerebral cortex is typically organized in six layers containing multiple types of neurons, with pyramidal neurons (PNs) being the most abundant. PNs in different cortical layers have distinct morphology, physiology and functional roles in neural circuits. Therefore, their development and synaptic plasticity may also differ. Using in vivo transcranial two-photon microscopy, we followed the structural dynamics of dendritic spines on apical dendrites of layer (L) 2/3 and L5 PNs at different developmental stages. We show that the density and dynamics of spines are significantly higher in L2/3 PNs than L5 PNs in both adolescent (1 month old) and adult (4 months old) mice. While spine density of L5 PNs decreases during adolescent development due to a higher rate of spine elimination than formation, there is no net change in the spine density along apical dendrites of L2/3 PNs over this period. In addition, experiences exert differential impact on the dynamics of apical dendritic spines of PNs resided in different cortical layers. While motor skill learning promotes spine turnover on L5 PNs in the motor cortex, it does not change the spine dynamics on L2/3 PNs. In addition, neonatal sensory deprivation decreases the spine density of both L2/3 and L5 PNs, but leads to opposite changes in spine dynamics among these two populations of neurons in adolescence. In summary, our data reveal distinct dynamics and plasticity of apical dendritic spines on PNs in different layers in the living mouse cortex, which may arise from their distinct functional roles in cortical circuits.

    View details for DOI 10.3389/fncir.2017.00043

    View details for Web of Science ID 000403772300001

    View details for PubMedID 28674487

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5474458