Laboratory of
Sensory Integration & Behavior
Research Interests

The activity of neuromodulatory systems coordinately changes with the mood, attention and motivation to influence sensory processing, sensorimotor transformation and behavior. The zebrafish, a genetically accessible vertebrate with transparent embryos and simple neural circuits, represents an excellent animal model for in vivo dissecting how multiple neuromodulatory systems coordinately regulate synaptic and neural circuit functions for the generation of adaptive behaviors. Combining in vivo whole-cell recording, calcium imaging, optogenetics, pharmacology, behavior assay, and genetic tools of larval zebrafish, our laboratory has been mainly focusing on neuromodulatory functions involved in visual processing, visuoauditory integration, visuomotor transformation, and relevant behavior. The long-term goal is to delineate a unified overarching theory about how multiple neuromodulatory systems adaptively regulate neural functions and animal behavior via sensing environmental sensory cues and mediating brain state, and to illustrate the functional and structural connectome of neuromodulatory systems.

The functional integrity of the brain critically relies on a delicate balance between substrate delivery via blood flow and energy demands imposed by neural activity. Neurons, glial cells and vessels constitute a functional unit - neurovascular unit to ensure that active brain areas obtain an adequate amount of blood supply. Although we have learned much about neural development and function, it remains largely unknown about how the 3-dimentional (3-D) brain vascular network is built and how the blood-brain-barrier (BBB) is formed. The second goal of my laboratory is to reveal macroscopic and microscopic mechanisms underlying brain vascular development and BBB formation, and coordinated development and function between the nervous system and brain vasculature by using in vivo imaging, molecular and genetic methods. In particular, we are interested in how neural activity regulates the process of brain vascular development.

Ongoing Topics:

1.Neuromodulation involved in visual processing and relevant behaviors
We aim to address how visual inputs are processed in the retina, integrated with auditory input in the brain, and initiates visually relevant behaviors, and how neuromodulatory systems regulate those processes.

2.Development of the brain vasculature and its neural regulation
We aim to study how 3-D brain vasculature and BBB are formed during development and regulated by the nervous system.


Du, Jiu-Lin, Ph.D.

Senior Investigator
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