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Yu Lab

Yu Lab Science


The sense of smell is as vivid as vision in evoking memories of our past, but many people fail to appreciate this sense until they lose it. For humans, the sense of smell is often viewed as an aesthetic sense, but its decline is often the early sign of neurodegenerate diseases such as Parkinsonís and Alzheimerís. For most animals, olfaction is critical for their survival. When sights and sounds are obscured in a noisy environment, scents are often the only means to discern food and detect predators. Pheromones, on the other hand, evoke mating rituals and territorial aggression which are essential for the propagation of the species.

Studying olfaction will allow us to address some of the questions that are common to all other senses: vision, hearing, touch and taste.  Moreover, the powerful genetic tools available in the olfactory system can allow us to dissect the molecular mechanisms of normal and pathological condition in the sensory systems.

We use a variety of technologies in the lab, including molecular biology, mouse genetics, optical imaging, patch clamp and other electrophysiological recording techniques, as well as mouse behavioral assays to address the following major questions:

  • How are odors or pheromones detected and represented in the brain?
  • What is the neural mechanism that allows the brain to detect, parse and integrate sensory information?
  • What is the neural circuit that allows innate response to sensory input to generate stereotyped behaviors?
  • What is the molecular mechanism underlying the formation of the highly specific neural circuit? How does neural activity alter the neural circuitry?

Olfactory Epithelium



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