“The Neural Network is an Uncharted World, Begging for Continued Exploration”

2019-12-30 Academic

The Institute for Basic Science (IBS), Korean Institute for Science and Technology (KIST), and a research team of Kyung Hee Graduate School of East-West Medicine Science have identified the molecular mechanism of neuromodulation in astrocytes by using low intensity ultrasound

The findings were published in October 2019 in the online version of Current Biology. In this study, Professor Jiho Park of the Graduate School of East-West Medicine Science and his team discovered various physiological changes in brain neurons. At the College of International Management on the International Campus, Professor Park talked about the research, his recent research findings, and his future research plans.

Physiological identification of changes in brain neurons by using multi-electrode arrays
Q. Please explain your research.
A. Regulating brain activities has a great clinical potential such as activating a series of intracellular signals in neurons to help alleviate the symptoms of Parkinson's disease. To that end, we used to perform surgical insertion of thin metal electrodes into the brain. Only recently did we begin to pay attention to a much safer ultrasonic brain stimulation, but its mechanism of action was not yet identified.

I first met Dr. Changjoon Lee, the research lead, at a conference about seven years ago. Since he asked me to join the research, I have spent about five years identifying these physiological changes. This latest study has confirmed the mechanism of brain stimulation and demonstrated that stimulation can improve motor skills.

My team was responsible for the physiological proof of this project. We first thinly sliced and cultured the hippocampal region of the lab mice brain and then detected electrical signals by using probes with multi-electrode arrays to identify highly sensitive nerve impulses. Our method allowed us to detect nerve impulses in an environment similar to in vivo, ensuring more precise results.

“I'll continue to explore how the neural network functions while emphasizing the importance of creativity to my students”
Q. It’s been almost 20 years since you first started working at Kyung Hee in 2000. How do you feel?
A. I believe that professors should guide students, as if they were the students’ parents, so that the students can develop an open mind. Personally, I tell my pupils to focus on creativity. I am confident that ideas come from free and creative thinking, which, in turn, improves the University. I offer a variety of experiences so that they can come up with broad and profound ideas, and I make sure to spend time sharing this knowledge with my students outside the classroom.

Q. What are your goals for the future?
A. The fundamental mechanism of the neural network is yet to be known. I will venture into this unknown world and explore the uncharted territory. And what’s more, I’d like to be a professor who can communicate with my students for life. Even after their graduation. I want to be a professor whom students feel comfortable to be around and pay a visit whenever they need advice or a chat.

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