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Our lab is interested in how brain circuits support diverse functions and behaviors. To address this question, we take a multidisciplinary and multiscale approach. We develop new technologies for imaging brain tissue with ever-increasing detail and scope, and combine in-vivo recordings of neuronal activity and behavior with brain-mapping to reveal structure-function relationships.

Video Credits: Kuan, Bondanelli et al., Nature 2024
Animation by Aaron Kuan
New Microscopy Technologies for Mapping the Brain

Recent technological breakthroughs in microscopy have made it possible to visualize the complex structure of brain networks at the nanoscale. This has given rise to the field of connectomics, which aims to produce and comprehensive wiring diagrams of the brain. We develop cutting-edge electron and X-ray imaging technologies to reveal the structure of the brain with ever-increasing scope and detail, and develop new experimental paradigms to investigate how brain anatomy gives rise to circuit function and behavior.

Comparative connectomics: how circuits support diverse functions

Mammalian cortical circuits perform a wide variety of specialized functions, yet share the same canonical circuit architecture. Our recent studies have suggested that unique circuit connectivity motifs within different cortical regions may support specific computations tailored to their unique functions. We use a functional connectomics approach combining behavior, functional imaging, and electron microscopy to reveal how neuronal connectivity relates to their circuit function. This approach can uncover key circuit patterns (or motifs), reveal which areas they operate in, and provide a more complete understanding of how cortical circuits underlie cognition. 

Brain-wide projectomics: mapping the highways of the brain

Long-range cortical projections are the anatomical foundation for cognitive functions that are distributed across multiple areas. We recently established synchrotron X-ray Nano-Holography (XNH) as a powerful technique for biological imaging, and shown that it is possible comprehensively trace myelinated axons across brain-wide distances with single-axon resolution. We have embarked on a large-scale project to produce comprehensive maps of long-range cortical connectivity, which will contribute to a mechanistic understanding of how brain-wide functional networks arise and may be disrupted in psychiatric diseases.

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