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Yujiao Jennifer Sun, PhD

I joined Dr. Nicoll's lab to continue my pursuit in dissecting the circuitry, synaptic, and cellular mechanism underlying the functional development and plasticity of neural circuits, in the computationally powerful and complex mammalian brain.

In my undergraduate research at Peking University, I studied the neuronal network development by analyzing synfire chain patterns in the spontaneous EPSCs in the rat primary visual cortex and simulation of scale-free network. During my graduate work at University of Southern California with Dr. Li I Zhang, I mainly used in vivo whole-cell voltage clamp and computational modeling to investigate the synaptic basis of functional development and NMDAR-mediated plasticity in the rat primary auditory cortex.

Coming to Dr. Nicoll's lab, I hope to deepen my understanding of the cellular and molecular mechanisms responsible for the functional maturation and plasticity, more specifically LTP and LTD in the hippocampus CA3-CA1, which is by far the most prominent and extensively studied feature in the circuit to underlie learning and memory. To achieve this goal, I am interested in elucidating the mechanisms involved in the synaptic targeting and trafficking of NMDARs. Using conditional knock-out mice and molecular replacement strategy, I hope to understand the structural role and functional requirement of NMDARs in normal synaptic development and plasticity and how its abnormalities might lead to neuropsychiatric disorders.



1. Liu BH, Li P, Li YT, Sun YJ, Yanagawa Y, Obata K, Zhang LI, Tao HW. Visual receptive field structure of cortical inhibitory neurons revealed by two-photon imaging guided recording. J Neurosci 29, 10520–10532 (2009)

2. Liu BH, Li P, Sun YJ, Li YT, Zhang LI, Tao HW. Intervening inhibition underlies simple-cell receptive field structure in visual cortex. Nat Neurosci 13, 89-96 (2010)

3. Sun YJ, Wu G, Li P, Liu BH, Tao HW, Zhang LI. Fine-tuning of pre-balanced excitation and inhibition during auditory cortical development. Nature 465, 927-931 (2010)

4. Zhou Y, Mesik L, Sun YJ, Tao HW, Zhang LI. Generation of temporal codes by elementary thalamocortical circuits in auditory cortex. J Neurosci 32(29), 9969-9980 (2012)

5. Sun YJ, Kim YJ, Ibrahim LA,Tao HW, Zhang LI. Broad spectral and temporal integration of Layer 5 corticofugal neurons in auditory cortex. J Neurosci. 33(12):5326-39 (2013)