Mei-Fang Cheng

Professor Emeritus
Rutgers University, Psychology Department
101 Warren Street, Newark, NJ 07102
Smith Hall Room 4-127
Office: (973) 353-5440 x1828
Fax: (973)353-1171
Research Interests
While stem cell transplant has been hailed as the future of brain therapy, in fact, the brain continues to produce new cells well into adulthood.   Adult neurogenesis is activated on demand.  
This evolutionarily old mechanism is on full display in various seasonal biological functions.  Cell loss due to brain injury and the associated functional loss can set off the brain’s defense mechanisms which include the production of new cells.  The cells’ journey, from proliferation in the ventricular systems, to migration to the injured regions, to differentiation into mature functional neurons in the effected region, depends on both the internal and external environment. The latter is particularly important in the final phase of adult neurogenesis. 
This lab has established the causal effect of endogenous neurogenesis and the functional recovery of breeding behavior post lesion in the hypothalamus and is currently focused on the role of the social environment in recruiting newborn neurons into the functional network.  The story of how sensory stimulation participates in neurogenesis turns out to be more complicated than previously thought.  Our latest study suggests that the presence of a housing partner – the relevant social stimulation in our case -- is contingent upon the female’s ability to induce the brain lesioned male to engage in the neural network underlying the lost behavior.  This activity-dependent recovery of function is consistent with recent thinking that activity-dependent transcription in the intracellular signaling of neurons regulates synapse development.
Selected Publications
Cheng, MF (2013) Hypothalamic neurogenesis in the adult brain. Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology.  34: 167-178.
Dios, A. and Cheng, MF (2013) "Specific neural representation for a conceptual set of behavior: pair bonding"  Research and Reports in Biology. 4:33-38
Cheng, MF,  Alexander K, Zhou S, Bonder and Chuang LS (2011) Newborn GnRH neurons in the adult forebrain of the ring dove. Hormone & Behavior.  60: 94-104.
Cheng, MF (2008) The role of vocal self-stimulation in female response to males: implications for state-reading. Hormones and Behavior. 53(1) : 1-10.
Chen G, Cheng MF (2007) Inhibition of Lesion-Induced Neurogenesis Impaired Behavioral Recovery in Adult Ring Doves.  Behav. Brain Res.  177:358-363.
Chen G, Bonder E & Cheng MF (2006) Lesion induced neurogenesis in the hypothalamus is involved in behavioral recovery in adult ring doves. J. Neurobiol. 66: 537-551
Cheng, MF,  Peng, JP, Chen G and Bonder, EM (2004)  Functional restoration of acoustic units and adult-generated neurons after hypothalamic lesion. J Neurobiol. 60: 197-213
Cheng, MF,  Peng, JP, Johnson, P. (1998) GnRH neurons preferentially respond to female nest coo stimulation: Demonstration of direct acoustic stimulation of luteinizing hormone release. Journal of Neuroscience. 18: 5477-5489. 
Cheng, M.-F. and Peng, J.  1997  Reciprocal talk between the auditory thalamus and hypothalamus: an antidromic study.  NeuroReport  8: 653-658. 
Cheng, M.-F.  1983  Does behavior influence hormone actions Acad. Psychol. Bull. 5, 473-485. 
Cheng, M.-F.  1983  Behavioral `self-feedback' control of endocrine states. In Hormones and Behaviour in Higher Vertebrates (J. Balthazart and R. Gilles, eds.).  Springer-Verlag: New York.  
Cheng, M.-F.  1979 Progress and prospect in ring dove research.  A chapter in Advances in the Study of Behavior, Vol. 9 (J.S. Rosenblatt, R.A. Hinde, C.G. Beer and M.-C. Busnel, eds.). Academic Press: New York. pp. 97-124.