Neuronal circuits underlying mouse social behaviors

Hyosang Lee
DGIST, Korea
17:30~18:15, November 19th, 2015


Emotional behaviors are associated with internal states that are perceived in humans as feelings. Aggression and sexual behavior are highly conserved, prototypic emotional behaviors that proceed through a series of appetitive and consummatory phases associated with increasing levels of arousal. How this escalation is encoded in the brain and linked to behavioral action selection remains an important unsolved problem in neuroscience.

Using in vivo electrophysiological recordings and functional manipulations such as optogenetics we found that neurons in the ventrolateral subdivision of the ventromedial hypothalamus (VMHvl) are activated during both mating and fighting, and that optogenetic activation of this structure can trigger attacking behavior in mice. We further dissected VMHvl using a molecular genetic marker and found that estrogen receptor 1-expressing neurons in VMHvl control the progression of a social encounter from its appetitive though its consummatory phase in a scalable manner that reflects the number or type of active neurons in the population. This study raises important new questions about the functional circuit mechanisms controlling decisions between innate social behaviors in the hypothalamus.


Honors & Prizes:

1. NIH Pathway to Independence Award(K99)

-National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, 2011-2013

-Title: The peripheral and central neuronal circuits that underlie Itch

2. Keystone Symposia Scholarship, The Neurobiology of Pain and Analgesia, Santa Fe, NM, 2009

-Title: Conditional genetic ablation of Mrgprd sensory neurons causes a selective deficit in mechanical but not noxious thermal sensitivity

3. Postdoctoral Fellowship, Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, 2009-2010

-Title: The physiological role of two novel neuronal pathways in acute and persistent pain


Professional  Activities:


  • 2015–Present Assistant Professor

-Department of Brain and Cognitive sciences, DGIST, Daegu, South Korea,

  • 2013–2015 Research Assistant Professor

-Department of Biology and Biological Engineering

-California Institute of Technology pasadena, USA

  • 2007–2012 Postdoctoral fellow

-Laboratory of David J. Anderson

-California Institute of Technology and Howard Hughes Medical Institute pasadena, USA

  • 2006-2006 Postdoctoral fellow

-Laboratory of Li-Huei Tsai

-Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston, MA, USA

  • 1997-1998 Teaching and Research Assistant

-Department of Anatomy, School of Medicine

-Kyungpook National University, Daegu, South Korea