Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

Minghong Ma Lab

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Research Interests

We are interested in how the brain perceives external sensory information and responds appropriately in the mouse model. Rodents primarily use olfactory cues to guide their behaviors (e.g., locating food, communicating with conspecifics, and avoiding danger). Odor detection relies on a large family (~1200 in mice) of G-protein coupled odorant receptors (ORs) expressed in olfactory sensory neurons (OSNs) in the nose. OSNs transmit sensory information to the olfactory bulb, which relays the information to several olfactory cortical and subcortical regions. Some OSNs serve dual functions as odor detectors and mechanical sensors, thus the olfactory system carries both odor and nasal breathing signals into the brain. Our current investigation focuses on how the olfactory system interacts with non-olfactory regions (e.g., the prefrontal cortex and striatum) to influence the brain activity and behavioral output. Since olfactory dysfunction is manifested in neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders, we are also interested in analyzing the olfactory system and related circuits in diseased states.

Research Techniques

ex vivo and in vivo electrophysiology, optogenetics, chemogenetics, fiber photometry, circuit tracing, mouse behavior, immunohistochemistry, molecular biology, and machine learning

Current Funding Supports


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