Scholar Profile

Yuki Oka

Assistant Professor
Division of Biology and Biological Engineering
California Institute of Technology
1200 E California Blvd, Mc 216-76
Pasadena, CA 91125-0001
Voice: 626-395-4998
Email: yoka@caltech.edu
Personal Homepage
2015 Searle Scholar

Research Interests

Elucidating the Neural Circuits for Body Fluid Homeostasis

Body fluid homeostasis is the fundamental mechanism that regulates internal salt and water balance. If this balance shifts in one direction, the brain senses these changes and triggers specific motivations and goal-directed behaviors such as drinking water and salt intake. However, the neural basis of how the brain drives such innate behaviors is largely unknown. In this program, we focus on thirst and water drinking behavior, and aim to elucidate the central mechanisms underlying body fluid homeostasis.Body fluid homeostasis is the fundamental mechanism that regulates internal salt and water balance. If this balance shifts in one direction, the brain senses these changes and triggers specific motivations and goal-directed behaviors such as drinking water and salt intake. However, the neural basis of how the brain drives such innate behaviors is largely unknown. In this program, we focus on thirst and water drinking behavior, and aim to elucidate the central mechanisms underlying body fluid homeostasis.

To achieve this goal, we will first define the specific brain regions and neural populations monitoring internal fluid balance. We will then combine physiology and optogenetics in awake behaving mice to examine whether the identified regions play critical roles for controlling drinking responses. Once the thirst-encoding brain regions are identified, we will apply a functional circuit mapping technique to examine how thirst signals are processed in downstream brain regions that ultimately gives rise to the specific behavioral output.

This research will not only decipher the neural basis of body fluid regulation, but may provide targets for novel clinical treatments for fluid homeostasis-associated diseases and symptoms.