Attentional Neurons and Circuits


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Time: 14:00-15:30 on Thu., June. 24, 2021

Venue: E109, Biomedicine Hall

Speaker: Dr. J. Julius Zhu

Host:  Dr. Mu Zhou  

Title:Attentional Neurons and Circuits


Salience selection is essential for attention-demanding processes, e.g., attentional, expectational, perceptual and working memory tasks.  We have developed simultaneous dual‒octuple in vitro and in vivo patch-clamp recording methods and discovered that cortical neurons use a coincidence detection mechanism to non-linearly amplify salient information.  Moreover, cortical inhibitory circuits may either inhibit or disinhibit this coincidence detection mechanism, suggesting that cortical neurons, synapses, and circuits work together to filter out “noise” in the incoming information and allow more attention to salient signals.  Recently, we have developed and utilized genetically encoded sensors to achieve first three-dimensional spatiotemporal visualization of cholinergic and adrenergic transmissions.  Super-resolution microscopic analysis deciphers unexpected fundamental properties of cholinergic and adrenergic transmissions, immediately unveiling their distinct roles in controlling attention, explaining downsides of current therapies, while suggesting new effective treatments for disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease.


Julius Zhu received his B.S. in Physiology and Biophysics from the Peking University in China, and Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.  He is the Radboud Professor and Sir Yue-Kong Pao Chair Professor.  His research focuses on tool development, and intra- and inter-cellular communications (for more information, please visit