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Yao-Ying Ma

 Yao-Ying Ma

 Assistant Professor of Psychology


Ph.D., Peking University
M.D., Shanxi Medical University
Post-doctoral training: UCLA and University of Pittsburgh
Research fellow: McLean Hospital, Harvard Medical School
Area: Neuroplasticity in Drug Addiction
Phone: 607-777-3596
Office: Science 4, Room 132
Lab:  MA  LAB website

Curriculum vitae (763kb)


Professional Activities:

Member of the Society for Neuroscience, 2007-present

Research Interests:

Addiction Behavior, Cocaine, Neuroplasticity, Striatum, Medium-Sized Spiny Neurons, NMDA Receptors, AMPA Receptors.

Research Description:

It is often believed, erroneously, that drug abusers could stop taking drugs at any time just by changing their behavior and that if they choose to do it is just because they are weak or devious. However, changing an addiction behavior is not as easy as it sounds. Drug addiction is a very complex disease that involves different brain regions and neuronal circuits which, once changed by drug intake, are difficult to revert to normal conditions. Thus, good intentions are not enough to quit drug consumption. A major focus of this field has therefore been on identifying and characterizing drug-induced neuroadaptations in reward-related brain regions.

Our lab focuses on the neuroplasticity in long-term persistence of drug-seeking even after a prolonged withdrawal from previous drug-taking. Combining the drug self-administration model in rodents with whole-cell patch clamp recordings and in vivo / in vitro optogenetics, the neuroadaptations of striatal medium-sized spiny neurons as well as striatal interneurons in addiction behavior are explored in specific neural circuits at both cellular and synaptic levels. What we bring to this field are new ideas and targets to treat one of the most devastating conditions that cause unimaginable losses to our society, drug addiction.

Philosophy of Graduate Training:

My teaching philosophy has been that it is crucial to employ specific strategies tailored for each individual student, as students learn at their own pace, using different skills and different styles. My M.D. & Ph.D. training makes me more than a pure neurobiologist; I am also a physician scientist who brings insightful understanding of the application of basic research discoveries to my work. The translation of a biological procedure to the clinic will motivate students to understand the physiological /psychological procedures applied to different circumstances. As a mentor of graduate students, my goal is to encourage students to be motivated to pursue research, provide them with state-of-art resources and guide them to be creative and productive.

Selected Publications:

Ma YY, Wang X, Huang Y, Marie H, Nestler EJ, Schlüter OM, Dong Y. Re-silencing of silent synapses unmasks anti-relapse effects of environmental enrichment. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 2016, 113: 5089-94.

Ma YY, Lee BR, Wang X, Guo C, Liu L, Cui R, Lan Y, Balcita-Pedicino JJ, Wolf ME, Sesack SR, Shaham Y, Schlüter OM, Huang YH, Dong Y. Bi-directional modulation of incubation of cocaine craving by silent synapse-based remodeling of prefrontal cortex to accumbens projections. Neuron, 2014, 83: 1-15.

Lee BR*, Ma YY*, Huang YH, Wang X, Otaka M, Ishikawa M, Neumann PA, Graziane NM, Brown TE, Suska A, Guo C, Lobo MK, Sesack SR, Wolf ME, Nestler EJ, Shaham Y, Schlüter OM, Dong Y. Maturation of silent synapses in amygdala- accumbens projection contributes to incubation of cocaine craving. Nat Neurosci. 2013, 16: 1644-51. (*, equal contribution)

Chen B*, Ma YY*, Wang Y, Wang X, Schlüter OM, Dong Y, Huang YH. Cocaine-induced membrane adaptation in the central nucleus of amygdala. Neuropsychopharmacology 2013, 38:2240-8. (*, equal contribution)

Ma YY, Henley SM, Toll J, Jentsch JD, Evans CJ, Levine MS, Cepeda C. Drug-primed reinstatement of cocaine seeking in mice: increased excitability of medium-sized spiny neurons in the nucleus accumbens. ASN Neuro 2013, 5: 257-71.

Ma YY, Cepeda C, Chatta P, Franklin L, Evans CJ, Levine MS. Regional and Cell Type-Specific Effects of DAMGO on Striatal D1 and D2 Dopamine Receptor-Expressing Medium-Sized Spiny Neurons. ASN Neuro. 2012, 4: 59-70.

Now Hiring!

Looking for highly motivated undergraduate and Ph.D. students, and postdoctoral fellows to join our exciting research program on addiction-related neural plasticity at Binghamton University. Our lab uses state-of-the-art techniques including whole-cell patch clamp electrophysiology and optogenetics in vitro and in vivo. To apply for research scientist position, please click here. To apply for any of other positions, please click here to see more detail.

Last Updated: 1/30/18