Psychosocial stress during childhood and adolescence increases risk for later development of psychiatric disorders, such as psychosis and mood disorders. Although increasing evidence suggests that early psychosocial stress affects brain maturation, it remains unclear how it causes behavioral changes in adulthood via altered brain maturation and function. The ultimate goal of our research is to understand the mechanisms by which psychosocial stress affects brain maturation/function and behavior. Specifically, we aim to investigate the role of neuroendocrinological changes induced by psychosocial stress in modulating neuronal function and connectivity, thereby altering behavior. By combining mouse behavioral assays, in vivo monitoring of neuronal activities in freely behaving mice, optogenetic/chemogenetic modulation of neuronal activities, and epigenetic/gene expression analysis, we plan to unravel the underlying mechanisms from the molecular and cellular to the circuitry and behavioral levels.
(Left to right) Rodent behavior, In vivo microdialysis, In vivo calcium imaging with optogenetics, stereotaxic injections of viruses and beads