At Braintime Lab at Taipei Medical University,
we study time in the brain at multiple scales: from milli-seconds to π⋅10^7 seconds.

We study how time is represented in the brain, using experimental animal models and computational methods. Our primary focus has been the neural circuits of circadian clocks that make up the seasonal (yearly) clock. These physiologically relevant circadian processes connect to cognitively relevant seconds-to-minutes scale events in the brain.

Sociology of body clocks

Interaction between the master circadian clock and peripheral clocks 
It turns out that the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) is not the only circadian clock in the body. We recently found that the choroid plexus clock exceeds even the SCN clock in terms of robustness (2018) and the kidney clock can influence the behavioral circadian rhythms, potentially through feedback to the master clock (2019). These investigations recast the role of the SCN as the master coordinator of the distributed local circadian clocks, rather than the master pacemaker, and let us think that the circadian organization of the body is likely more democratic and less strictly hierarchical than previously thought.

The circuit of circadian clocks

While a single cell is fully capable of maintaining a circadian clock, evolution chose a multi-cellular clock system in mammals. We have previously found that the main circadian clock, the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), can be reduced to a simple neural circuit of two oscillators. The two-oscillator model predicts novel stability pockets that enable previously unforeseen circadian behaviors. These new insights provide us with specific model-based strategies that we can test in vivo and ex vivo. We seek clinical applications of these findings to quickly stabilize circadian rhythms under unusual seasonal conditions or after abrupt transitions to a new day-night cycle.