BME Special Engagement Seminar - J. Julius Zhu, PhD



Weill Hall 125


We welcome Dr. J. Julius Zhu for a special seminar. Dr. Zhu is a Professor in the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Virginia School of Medicine.

Attentional Neurons and Circuits

Abstract: Salience selection is essential for attention-demanding processes, e.g., attentional, expectational, perceptual, and working memory tasks. We have developed simultaneous dual–sexdecuple 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 created genetically encoded sensors-based image analysis program (GESIAP) that enables the first nanoscopic visualization of neuromodulatory transmission ex vivo and in behaving animals. Quantal analysis of synaptic events at single release sites deciphers unexpected transmission properties, immediately unveiling the distinct roles of different neuromodulatory modules in controlling attention and other behaviors, and suggesting new effective treatments for disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, addiction, and depression.

Bio: 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