Mu-ming Poo

Chinese Academy of Sciences

Election Year: 2009
Primary Section: 24, Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
Secondary Section: 28, Systems Neuroscience
Membership Type: Foreign Associate

Research Interests

I was trained in cellular physiology and biophysics. Early in my career, I became fascinated by problems in development. Over the past three decades, I have studied the cellular mechanisms underlying several aspects of neural circuit development - axon/dendrite differentiation and pathfinding, synapse formation and plasticity, and activity-induced refinement of developing neural circuits. For examples, I have examined how extracellular gradients of diffusible or substrate-bound factors may polarize the neuron, initiate axon/dendrite differentiation, and trigger turning of axonal growth cones. I also studied how the growth cone interacts with its target cell during the early phase of synaptogenesis, how neurotrophins and neuronal activities modify the efficacy of synaptic transmission, and more recently how visual inputs shape the properties of retinotectal circuits by activity-induced synaptic modifications. These problems were experimentally addressed in cultures of dissociated neurons, acutely isolated brain slices, and immobilized Xenopus tadpoles and zebrafish larvae, using electrophysiological recording, molecular perturbation, and optical imaging methods. The discovery of spike timing-dependent plasticity in late 90s also triggered my interest in understanding how neural circuits may code and store temporal information, and this led to our recent studies aiming at understanding circuit mechanisms underlying perceptual memory of time intervals.

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