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Meet the Tseng Lab

Mechanisms underlying Prefrontal Cortex maturation during Adolescence

Proper maturation of the prefrontal cortex (PFC) during adolescence is critical for the acquisition of cognitive abilities such as planning, decision-making and inhibitory control. Disruptions of these functions are often found in psychiatric disorders that emerge during adolescence (e.g., schizophrenia, substance use disorders). Yet, the neurobiology underlying this adolescent vulnerability remains elusive in part due to our limited understanding of mechanisms regulating the normative neuro-maturational events occurring during this critical developmental period. The goal of the Tseng lab is to identify key neurodevelopmental processes during adolescence that contribute to the onset of psychiatric disorders, with emphasis on neuronal circuits within the PFC. Recent studies from the Tseng lab indicate that a hallmark of PFC maturation is the gain of local GABAergic neuromodulatory capacity that ultimately affect PFC processing of afferent information and output (see Figure). Current studies in the Tseng lab are aimed at establishing the extent of pre- and postsynaptic mechanisms needed to become online during adolescence to enable proper PFC maturation in adulthood.

Tai Lab


(A) Adolescence Constitutes a Critical Period for the Refinement of GABAergic Function in the Prefrontal Region of Both Primates and Rodents (see Caballero & Tseng, Trends Neurosci 2016). FSI: fast-spiking interneuron; PV: parvalbumin; CR: calretinin; IPSC: inhibitory postsynaptic currents EPSC: excitatory postsynaptic currents. (B) Early adolescent rats exhibit lower levels of PV expression and diminished glutamatergic transmission onto PV/FSI in the PFC. (C) In the adult PFC, changes in GABAergic function are associated with shifts in dominance of GABAergic populations. The frequency of glutamatergic synaptic activity onto PV/FSI increases significantly in tandem with a marked upregulation of PV expression. Modified from Caballero et al., Neurosci & Biobehav Rev 2016.