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Dr. Xiaohong Xu's Lecture - Genetic and functional partition of the hypothalamic circuits for sexually dimorphic behaviors

 Title: Genetic and functional partition of the hypothalamic circuits for sexually dimorphic behaviors
Speaker: Dr. Xiao-hong Xu, Institute of Neuroscience, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Chair: Prof. Tianzi Jiang, Brainnetome Center, CASIA
Time: 9:00-10:00 Nov. 3, 2015
Venue: The 1st meeting room, 3rd floor of the Intelligence Building 
In this talk, I will present our recent optogenetic studies of the hypothalamic circuit that control sexually dimorphic behaviors. Males and females of most species exhibit qualitative or quantitative differences in behaviors. Despite intensive research on the genetic and hormonal factors that regulate sexually dimorphic behaviors, little is known about the neural circuits that control these behaviors. We find that the preoptic nucleus of the hypothalamus is differentially activated in males and females during the display of male mating behavior and maternal care. Surprisingly, optogenetic activation of the preoptic nucleus elicits male mating behavior and maternal care in both sexes in a non-sexually dimorphic manner. These results suggest that despite behavioral differences between the two sexes, the brain is bi-potential. In other words, the brain is capable of supporting the behaviors that are typical of either sex. In addition, we find that activation of the preoptic nucleus suppresses hunger. Together, these results support a hierarchical and antagonistic organization of the hypothalamic circuitry that regulates different innate behaviors.
Dr. Xiao-hong Xu graduated from School of Life Science, Peking University in 2000 with a bachelor degree. She then went to graduate school at Case Western Reserve University. There she used transgenic mice models and studied the coordinated regulation of a receptor gene cluster. She received her Ph.D in 2006. After graduation, she moved to University of California, San Francisco, where she studied sexual dimorphisms in the brain and genetic regulation of sexually dimorphic behaviors. In November 2012, Dr. Xu joined Institute Of Neuroscience as an Investigator. Her main interest is to study the neural basis of innate behavior. Dr. Xu is awarded Junior 1000 award, and is a member of CAS Center for Excellence in Brain Science and Intelligence Technology