SMART:MIND

        THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT EL PASO

Dr. Kyung-An Han

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Department of Biological Sciences

The major interest of Dr Han’s lab research is the neurobiological basis of behavioral plasticity such as learning, memory and drug addiction.

Research questions:

  • How are natural stimuli (e.g. food)- and drug-induced (e.g. alcohol) memories formed and maintained?
  • What are the distinct features of reward vs. aversive memories?
  • Are active vs. passive memories formed by similar mechanisms?
  • Do the memories of olfactory vs. visual information involve distinct key players?
  • Why does alcohol intake cause cognitive and motor impulsivity?
  • How do social and environmental factors affect behavioral inhibition?
  • How do social and environmental factors affect neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases

Significance of the work: Dr. Han's lab research currently focuses on monoamine systems (e.g. dopamine and octopamine) and investigates the molecular and cellular components crucial for distinct behavioral plasticity, and underlying neural circuits. Abnormal dopamine functions underlie ADHD, autism, schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease and drug abuse/addiction. Han lab research contributes to better understanding of the pathogenesis mechanisms and interventions for the relevant brain disorders.

Methods to be learned: Dr. Han's lab uses molecular, immunohistochemical, pharmacological, genetic, transgenic, behavioral, and statistical analyses, as well as the fruit fly Drosphila as a model system,  offering excellent multidisciplinary training and education, and the fruit fly Drosophila. Drosophila is a powerful model organism due to its well-characterized genetics, fully sequenced genome, and sophisticated nervous system comparable to that of humans.