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the Major Research plan of the National Natural Science Foundation of China--Circuitry Mechanisms for the Formation of the Concept of Nest and its Effects on Defensive Behaviors to Fear

Source: National Natural Science Foundation of China

Grant No:91632303

Project: Circuitry Mechanisms for the Formation of the Concept of Nest and its Effects on Defensive Behaviors to Fear

Chief Specialist: Prof.Fuqiang Xu


    “Home”for human and “nest” for animals are complex concepts involving both spatial memory and emotional components. Our preliminary studies have demonstrated that mice can significantly change even their innate defensive responses to fear caused by visual cue after they established the concept of “nest” of “safe space” in the test box through conditioning. In this proposal, the team, which has established close collaboration for years, will take advantages of the expertise of all members to further improve broadly applicable new techniques and methods, including virus-based tracing systems that can be used to reveal the structures and study the functions, and super-resolution imaging tools to determine the site of proteins in synapse, and fast and sensitive imaging system with sub-cellular resolution for whole brain range mapping. Then, we will integrate these tools with others such as optogentics, chemogenetics, calcium imaging, electrical recording and behaviors to: 1) map out the neuronal networks across the whole brain for defensive responses to fear caused by visual cue and nest; 2) obtain the changes of the networks/circuits during the learn and memory processes to establish the concept of nest; 3) study the interactions between the two types of networks during looming stimulation at the different stages in the process forming the concept of nest; and 4) collect the information from the other modalities. By detailed and systematic analyses, we will elucidate the circuit mechanisms for the formation of the concept of nest, how the learnt memory modulates the innate defense responses. The techniques/methods/tools we attempt to develop and establish are suitable for basically all circuit studies and thus have great potential to be transferred into commercial products. The results from the mechanistic studies will provide neurobiological basis for measurements to accelerate the process of forming the concept of nest so as to help the mobile population to accommodate with new environments and improve their emotional conditions, leading to a more coherent society. Therefore, the results from this application should have significant impacts on science as well as society.

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