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Billy Chieng

Postdoctoral Research Associate


  • PhD in Science, The University of Sydney

  • Bachelor of Pharmacy (Hons), The University of Sydney


Research interests

I am a postdoctoral researcher who specialises in electrophysiological recording in ex vivo brain slice. I collaborate extensively with other workers in Professor Balleine’s group at the School of Psychology, UNSW. Together, we forge an excellent strong team and a highly successful partnership in complementing brain slice experiment with animal behaviour. I perform patch-clamp electrophysiology in brain slice from adult rodents (2-6 months old), critically age-matched to accompany as well as support their exciting behavioural data. This intimate cross-discipline collaborations produce high quality in our publications, driving an objective to understand how brain functions during learning and memory. My research interest is to understand the roles of striatal cholinergic interneurons in decision making.


  • Becchi, S., Chieng, B., Bradfield, L. A., Capellán, R., Leung, B. K., & Balleine, B. W. (2023). Cognitive effects of thalamostriatal degeneration are ameliorated by normalizing striatal cholinergic activity. Science Advances, 9(25), eade8247. Read More.

  • Gladding JM, Lingawi NW, Leung BK, Kendig MD, Chieng BC, Laurent V (2023) High fat diet allows food-predictive stimuli to energize action performance in the absence of hunger, without distorting insulin signaling on accumbal cholinergic interneurons. Appetite, 106769. Read more.

  • Crimmins BE, Lingawi NW, Chieng BC, Leung BK, Maren S, Laurent V (2022) Basal forebrain cholinergic signaling in the basolateral amygdala promotes strength and durability of fear memories. Neuropsychopharmacology. Read More.

  • Peak, J., Chieng, B., Hart, G., & Balleine, B. W. (2020). Striatal direct and indirect pathway neurons differentially control the encoding and updating of goal-directed learning. eLife, 9. Read More.

  • Morse, A. K., Leung, B. K., Heath, E., Bertran-Gonzalez, J., Pepin, E., Chieng, B. C., Balleine, B. W., and Laurent, V. (2020). Basolateral Amygdala Drives a GPCR-Mediated Striatal Memory Necessary for Predictive Learning to Influence Choice. Neuron 106:855-869. Read More.

  • Hart, G., Bradfield, L., Fok, S., Chieng, B. and Balleine, B.W. (2018). The bilateral prefronto-striatal pathway is necessary for learning new goal-directed actions. Curr Biol 28:2218-2229. Read More.

  • Heath, E., Chieng, B., Christie, M.J. and Balleine, B.W. (2018). Substance P and dopamine interact to modulate the distribution of delta-opioid receptors on cholinergic interneurons in the striatum. Eur J Neurosci 47:1159-1173. Read More.

  • Laurent, V., Chieng, B. and Balleine, B.W. (2016). Extinction generates outcome-specific conditioned inhibition mediated by infralimbic cortex and modulated by dorsal hippocampus. Curr Biol 26:3169-3175. Read More.  

  • Bradfield, L.A., Dezfouli, A., van Holstein, M., Chieng, B. and Balleine, B.W. (2015). Medial orbitofrontal cortex mediates outcome retrieval in partially observable task situations. Neuron 88:1268-1280. Read More.

  • Connor, M., Bagley, E.E., Chieng, B.C. and Christie, M.J. (2015). Beta-arrestin-2 knockout prevents development of cellular µ-opioid receptor tolerance but does not affect opioid-withdrawal-related adaptations in single PAG neurons. Br J Pharmacol 172:492-500. Read More.

  • Corbit, L.H., Chieng, B.C. and Balleine, B.W. (2014). Effects of repeated cocaine exposure on habit learning and reversal by N-acetylcysteine. Neuropsychopharmacology 39:1893-1901. Read More.

  • Laurent, V., Bertran-Gonzalez. J., Chieng, B.C. and Balleine, B.W. (2014). Delta-opioid and dopaminergic processes in accumbens shell modulate the cholinergic control of predictive learning and choice. J Neurosci 34:1358-1369. Read More.

  • Bertran-Gonzalez. J., Laurent, V., Chieng, B.C., Christie, M.J. and Balleine, B.W. (2013). Learning-related translocation of delta-opioid receptors on ventral striatal cholinergic interneurons mediates choice between goal-directed actions. J Neurosci 33:16060-16071. Read More.

  • Bradfield, L.A., Bertran-Gonzalez. J., Chieng, B. and Balleine, B.W. (2013). The thalamo-striatal pathway and the cholinergic control of goal-directed action: Interlacing new and existing action-outcome associations in the striatum. Neuron 79:153-166. Read More.

  • Bertran-Gonzalez. J., Chieng, B.C., Laurent, V., Valjent, E. and Balleine, B.W. (2012). Striatal cholinergic interneurons display activity-related phosphorylation of ribosomal protein S6. Plos One 7:e53195. Read More.

  • Dang, V.C., Chieng, B.C. and Christie, M.J. (2012). Prolonged stimulation of μ-opioid receptors produces ß-arrestin-2 mediated heterologous desensitization of α2-adrenoceptor function in locus coeruleus neurons. Mol Pharmacol 82:473-480. Read More.

  • Bagley, E.E., Hacker, J., Chefer, V.I., Mallet, C., McNally, G.P., Chieng, B.C.H., Perroud, J., Shippenberg, T.S. and Christie, M.J. (2011).  Drug-induced GABA transporter currents enhance GABA release to induce opioid withdrawal behaviors. Nat Neurosci 14:1548-1554. Read More.

  • Chieng, B., Azriel, Y., Mohammadi, S. and Christie, M.J. (2011).  Distinct cellular properties of identified dopaminergic and GABAergic neurons in the mouse ventral tegmental area.  J Physiol (London) 589:3775-3787. Read More.

  • Dang, V., Chieng, B., Azriel, Y. and Christie, M.J. (2011). Cellular morphine tolerance produced by βarrestin-2-dependent impairment of mu-opioid receptor resensitization. J Neurosci 31:7122-7130. Read More.

  • Chieng, B. and Christie, M.J. (2010). Somatostatin and nociceptin inhibit neurons in the central nucleus of amygdala that project to the periaqueductal grey. Neuropharmacol 59:425-430. Read More.

  • Ittner, L.M., Ke, Y.D., Delerue, F., Bi, M., Gladbach, A., van Eersel, J., Wölfing, H., Chieng, B.C., Christie, M.J., Napier, I., Eckert, A., Staufenbiel, M., Hardeman, E. and Götz, J. (2010). Dendritic function of tau mediates amyloid-beta toxitity in Alzheimer’s disease mouse models. Cell 142:387-397. Read More.

  • Chieng, B. and Christie, M.J. (2009). Chronic morphine induces functional delta receptors in amygdala neurons that project to periaqueductal grey. Neuropharmacol 57:430-437. Read More.

  • Chieng, B.C., Lee, D.J., Du, Y.P., Osborne, P.B., Christie, M.J. and Massotte, D. (2008).  Functional coupling of mu-receptor-Galphai-tethered proteins in AtT20 cells. Neuroreport 19:1793-1976. Read More.

  • Johnson, E.E., Chieng, B., Napier, I. and Connor, M. (2006).  Decreased µ-opioid receptor signaling and a reduction in calcium current density in sensory neurons from chronically morphine treated mice. Br J Pharmacol 148:947-955. Read More.

  • Chieng, B.C.H., Christie, M.J. and Osborne, P.B. (2006).  Characterization of neurons in the rat central nucleus of the amygdala: cellular physiology, morphology and opioid sensitivity. J Comp Neurol 497:910-927. Read More.

  • Hacker, J., Pedersen, N.P., Chieng, B.C.H., Keay, K.A. and Christie, M.J. (2006).  Enhanced Fos expression in glutamic acid decarboxylase immunoreactive neurons of the mouse periaqueductal grey during opioid withdrawal. Neuroscience 137:1389-1396. Read More.

  • Chieng, B.C.H, Hallberg, C., Nyberg, F.J. and Christie, M.J. (2005).  Enhanced c-Fos in periaqueductal grey GABAergic neurons during opioid withdrawal. Neuroreport 16:1279-1283. Read More.

  • Bagley, E.E., Chieng B.C.H., Christie, M.J. and Connor, M.A. (2005).  Opioid tolerance in periaqueductal grey neurons isolated from mice chronically treated with morphine. Br J Pharmacol 146:68-76. Read More.

  • Hack, S.P., Bagley, E.E., Chieng, B.C.H. and Christie, M.J. (2005).  Induction of d-opioid receptor function in the midbrain after chronic morphine treatment. J Neurosci 25:3192-3198. Read More.

  • Osborne, P., Vidovic, M., Chieng, B., Hill, C. and Christie, M.J. (2002).  Expression of mRNA and functional alpha1-adrenoceptors that suppress the GIRK conductance in adult rat locus coeruleus neurons. Br J Pharmacol 135:226-232. Read More.

  • Chieng, B. and Bekkers, J.M. (2001).  Inhibition of calcium channels by opioid- and adenosine-receptor agonists in neurons of the nucleus accumbens. Br J Pharmacol 133:337-344. Read More.

  • Osborne, P.B., Chieng, B. and Christie, M.J. (2000).  Morphine-6b-glucuronide has a higher efficacy than morphine as a mu-opioid receptor agonist in the rat locus coeruleus. Br J Pharmacol 131:1422-1428. Read More.

  • Chieng, B. and Bekkers, J.M. (1999).  GABAB, opioid and a2 receptor inhibition of calcium channels in acutely-dissociated locus coeruleus neurons. Br J Pharmacol 127:1533-1538. Read More.

  • Chieng, B. and Williams, J.T. (1998).  Increased opioid inhibition of GABA release in nucleus accumbens during morphine withdrawal. J Neurosci 18:7033-7039. Read More.

  • Bellchambers, C.E., Chieng, B., Keay, K.A. and Christie, M.J. (1998). Swim-stress but not opioid withdrawal increases expression of c-fos-immunoreactivity in rat periaqueductal gray neurones which project to the rostral ventromedial medulla. Neuroscience 83:517-524. Read More.

  • Chieng, B. and Christie, M.J. (1996).  Local opioid withdrawal in rat single periaqueductal gray neurons in vitro. J Neurosci 16:7128-7136. Read More.

  • Chieng, B., Connor, M. and Christie, M.J. (1996).  The m-receptor antagonist D-Phe-Cys-Tyr-D-Trp-Orn-Thr-Pen-Thr-NH2 (CTOP) [but not D-Phe-Cys-Tyr-D-Trp-Arg-Thr-Pen-Thr-NH2 (CTAP)], produces a non-opioid receptor mediated increase in K+ conductance of rat locus coeruleus neurons. Mol Pharmacol 50, 650-655. Read More.

  • Connor, M., Vaughan, C.W., Chieng, B. and Christie, M.J. (1996).  Receptors for nociceptin couple to an increase in potassium conductance in rat locus coeruleus neurones in vitro. Br J Pharmacol 119:1614-1618. Read More.

  • Chieng, B. and Christie, M.J. (1995).  Hyperpolarisation by GABAB receptor agonists in mid–brain periaqueductal gray neurones in vitro. Br J Pharmacol 116:1583-1588. Read More.

  • Chieng, B.,  Keay, K.A. and Christie, M.J.  (1995).  Increased fos–like immunoreactivity in the periaqueductal gray of anaesthetised rats during opiate withdrawal. Neurosci Lett 183:79–82. Read More.

  • Chieng, B. and Christie, M.J.  (1995).  Lesions to terminals of noradrenergic locus coeruleus neurones do not inhibit opiate withdrawal behaviour in rats. Neurosci Lett 186:37–40. Read More.

  • Chieng, B. and Christie, M.J. (1994).  Hyperpolarization by opioids acting on m–receptors of a sub–population of rat periaqueductal gray neurones in vitro. Br J Pharmacol 113:121–128. Read More.

  • Chieng, B. and Christie, M.J. (1994).  Inhibition by opioids acting on m–receptors of GABAergic and glutamatergic postsynaptic potentials in single rat periaqueductal gray neurones in vitro. Br J Pharmacol 113:303–309. Read More.

  • Chieng, B., Howden, M.E.H. and Christie, M.J. (1993).  Australian funnel–web spider toxin, versutoxin, enhances spontaneous synaptic activity in single brain neurons in vitro.  Brain Res 626:136–142. Read More.

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