ShePower: Her research is to 'fish' in human's brains
Zhang Ziyu

Have you wondered why you feel excited, sad or terrified? Why you want to dance when you hear a particular kind of music? These feelings come from our brains. 

Electrical and chemical signals are two main signals, and chemical signals are molecules that exist in our brains. What are these molecules doing in our brains? How can we see them in action? This is what neuroscientist Yu Ping, a professor at the Institute of Chemistry under the Chinese Academy of Science (CAS), is working on. "My job is to 'fish' in human's brains," she grins. 

Yu Ping gives a presentation at work. /courtesy of Yu Ping

Yu Ping gives a presentation at work. /courtesy of Yu Ping

How hard to 'fish'?

"There are various fish in the vast ocean, and they swim around quickly. Is there a way to catch one type of fish, do it in real-time, and keep it alive? The research we are doing is like fishing in the sea. Except we're not in the sea, it's in our brains," Yu used the metaphor to describe her job. 

It's significant to capture these signal changes in the brains quickly and selectively because it will help to understand the function and mechanism of our brains.  

"The odds of getting depression, Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease are getting bigger. However, the molecular mechanism of pathogenesis is still unclear," said Yu. Her research has a positive role in the process of fighting these diseases. More importantly, to cure diseases of the nervous system one day. 

From following to leading 

"Doing research will improve your problem-solving skills. Every time we solve a problem, it gives us a great sense of pleasure, which is brought by dopamine," Yu describes her passion for her work. 

When Yu and her team entered the field of neurosciences over 10 years ago, other countries had been exploring this field for 20 or 30 years. But Yu and her team have pushed the boundaries.  

"In fact, it is very important to overtake the curve in scientific research, and we thought 'what if a new principle could be introduced into this, and to detect more molecules?'" she said. Yu believes the future is bright. 

Scriptwriter: Zhang Ziyu

Cover image designer: Yin Yating

Executive producer: Zhang Xiaohe 

Producer: Si Nan 

Supervisor: Zhang Shilei