Yanhua Huang, PhD

  • Associate Professor, Psychiatry





Education & Training

PhD, Johns Hopkins University (2006)

Campus Address

Bridgeside Point II, Room 229

One-Line Research Description

Cellular and circuit mechanisms underlying drug addiction and sleep-mediated regulation of reward.

We are interested in the neural circuit and plasticity that underlie motivational behaviors; specifically, those that mediate natural reward seeking as well as drug addiction.

One focus of the lab is to understand the neural plasticity mechanisms that underlie altered reward-seeking in drug addiction. We hypothesize that strong incentive stimuli, such as the experience of addictive drugs, shift the emotional and motivational states by rewiring the neural network within the brain reward circuitry. We have been examining several novel forms of neural plasticity within the brain reward circuitry upon exposure to cocaine.

The other focus of the lab is to examine the neural mechanisms by which sleep regulates natural and drug reward. We hypothesize that sleep (or sleep loss) alters the function of the brain reward circuitry and, consequently, the motivational responses. Current efforts are focused on characterizing the effects of sleep deprivation on neural activity in the nucleus accumbens, a key element at the limbic-motor interface that gates emotional/motivational responses during reward processing. The cellular and molecular mechanisms of which are studied in the context of both natural reward seeking and drug addiction.

We employ a multidisciplinary approach including brain slice electrophysiology, in vitro and in vivo optogenetics, EEG recordings, molecular biology, and behavioral assays in rodents.

Representative Publications

Rich MT, Huang YH, Torregrossa MM (2019) Plasticity at Thalamo-amygdala Synapses Regulates Cocaine-Cue Memory Formation and Extinction. Cell Rep 26:1010-1020.

Parekh PK, Becker-Krail D, Sundaravelu P, Ishigaki S, Okado H, Sobue G, Huang Y, McClung CA (2017) Altered GluA1 (Gria1) function and accumbal synaptic plasticity in the Clock ∆19 model of bipolar mania. Biological Psychiatry 84: 817-826.

Ge F, Mu P, Guo R, Cai Li, Liu Z, Dong Y, Huang YH. Chronic sleep fragmentation enhances habenula cholinergic neural activity. Mol Psychiatry [Epub ahead of print].

Liu Z., Wang Y., Cai L., Li Y., Chen B., Dong Y., Huang Y.H. (2016) Prefrontal cortex to accumbens projections in sleep regulation of reward. J Neurosci 36: 7897-7910

Chen B., Wang Y., Liu X., Liu Z., Dong Y., Huang Y.H. (2015) Sleep regulates incubation of cocaine craving. J Neurosci 35: 13300-13310.

Ma Y.Y., Lee B.R., Wang X., Guo C., Liu L., Cui R., Lan Y., Balcita-Pedicino J.J., Wolf M.E., Sesack S.R., Shaham Y., Schlüter O.M., Huang Y.H., Dong Y. (2014) Bi-directional modulation of incubation of cocaine craving by silent synapse-based remodeling of prefrontal cortex to accumbens projections. Neuron 83: 1453-1467.

Chen B., Wang Y., Ma Y.Y., Wang X., Schlüter O.M., Dong Y., Huang Y.H. (2013) Cocaine-induced Membrane Adaptation in the Central Nucleus of Amygdala. Neuropsychopharmacology 38: 2240-2248.

Ishikawa M., Otaka M., Neumann P.A., Wang Z., Cook J.M., Schlüter O.M., Dong Y., Huang Y.H. (2013) Exposure to cocaine regulates inhibitory synaptic transmission from the ventral tegmental area to the nucleus accumbens. J Physiol 591:4827-4841.

Suska, A., Lee, B.R., Huang, Y.H., Dong, Y. and Schlüter, O.M. Selective presynaptic enhancement of the prefrontal cortex to nucleus accumbens pathway by cocaine. Pro Natl Acad Sci 110: 713-718, 2013.

Winters, B.D., Krüger, J.M., Huang, X., Gallaher, Z.R., Ishikawa, M., Czaja, K., Krueger, J.M., Huang, Y.H., Schlüter, O.M. and Dong, Y. CB1-expressing Neurons in the Nucleus Accumbens. Pro Natl Acad Sci 109: E2717-E2725, 2012.

Huang, Y.H., Ishikawa, M., Lee, B.R., Nakanishi, N., Schlüter, O.M. and Dong, Y. Searching for Presynaptic NMDA Receptors in the Nucleus Accumbens. J Neurosci 31:18453-18463, 2011.

Brown, T.E., Lee, B.R., Mu, P., Huang, Y.H., Sorg, B.A., Zukin, R.S., Nestler, E.J., Dong, Y., and Schlüter, O.M. A silent synapse-based mechanism for cocaine-induced locomotor sensitization. J Neurosci 31: 8163-8174, 2011. 

Huang Y.H., Lin Y., Mu P., Lee B.R., Brown T.E., Wayman G., Marie H., Liu W., Yan Z., Sorg B.A., Schlüter O.M., Zukin R.A., Dong Y. (2009) In vivo cocaine experience generates silent synapses. Neuron 63: 40-47.