Research Highlights

The Center for Neurotechnology and Behavior at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai recognizes advances in neuroscience. Here, we feature three research labs: Xiaoting Wu, PhD, Herbert Zheng Wu, PhD and Jinye Dai, PhD, that are pushing the envelope of different neurotechnologies.

Xiaoting Wu, PhD

Social cognition is the ability to detect, store, and evaluate social information and it is critical for how we think, feel, and interact with others. Impairment of social cognition is a defining feature of many neuropsychiatric diseases including autism, schizophrenia, and mood disorders. The major goal of our research is to understand the neural mechanisms underlying social cognitive processes such as social perception, social memory, and social decision-making. We are particularly interested in how molecular and neuromodulatory actions shape synaptic properties and circuit function. To achieve this, we combine a variety of approaches across molecular, synaptic, and behavioral scales which include single-cell transcriptomics, ex vivo electrophysiology, in vivo photometric recordings, and optogenetics.

Herbert Zheng Wu, PhD

Behaviors are stable sensory-motor associations established by development and/or experience (i.e., nature vs. nurture), but these associations can also be flexible depending on the context and internal state. This flexibility affords us tremendous adaptive advantage in an ever-changing environment, but its neural basis remains unclear. We seek to understand flexible behavior by asking the following big questions: How do behavior circuits achieve adaptability while maintaining stability? Are distinct mechanisms responsible for flexible control across seconds, days, and years? While innate and learned behaviors are thought to be orchestrated by divergent neural circuits, do common mechanisms support flexible control over both types of behaviors?

Jinye Dai, PhD

The ultimate aim of our synstress lab is to discern physiological mechanisms of stress coping and synaptic pathological mechanisms that lead to system decompensation when coping reaches its limit. to achieve this, we combine cutting-edge experimental techniques, including RNA sequencing, CRISPR/CAS9, Immunostaining, Electrophysiology, and Behavioral test, using mouse models and human stem cell models to provide key insights into the interdependence between synapse function and behavior, and generate a comprehensive molecular understanding of both, the adaptive nature of healthy brain function as well as pathological forms of stress-induced decompensation in neuropsychiatric disorders.