My group studies the neural circuits underlying cognitive function and dysfunction as they relate to anxiety, depression, schizophrenia and autism. We use sophisticated technologies to manipulate specific neural circuits in the rodent brain to determine their role in behavior. We are interested in changes in synaptic strength that may underlie mental disorders.
Understanding the link between neural circuits and behavior has been the focus of research in my lab. We are particularly interested in studying the synaptic and circuit mechanisms underlying reward processing, attention, and learning and memory; as well as synaptic and circuit dysfunctions responsible for maladaptive behaviors that are related to major mental disorders. We integrate in vitro and in vivo electrophysiology, imaging, molecular, genetic, optogenetic, and chemogenetic techniques to probe and manipulate the function of specific neural circuits – with a focus on the fear and reward circuits – in the rodent brain, and to determine how these circuits participate in adaptive or maladaptive behavioral responses in various tasks.
Yu, K. and Ahrens, S. and Zhang, X. and Schiff, H. and Ramakrishnan, C. and Fenno, L. and Deisseroth, K. and Zhao, F. and Luo, M. H. and Gong, L. and He, M. and Zhou, P. and Paninski, L. and Li, B. (2017) The central amygdala controls learning in the lateral amygdala. Nat Neurosci, 20(12) pp. 1680-1685.
Stephenson-Jones, M. and Yu, K. and Ahrens, S. and Tucciarone, J. M. and van Huijstee, A. N. and Mejia, L. A. and Penzo, M. A. and Tai, L. H. and Wilbrecht, L. and Li, B. (2016) A basal ganglia circuit for evaluating action outcomes. Nature, 539(7628) pp. 289-293.
Penzo, M. A. and Robert, V. and Tucciarone, J. and De Bundel, D. and Wang, M. and Van Aelst, L. and Darvas, M. and Parada, L. F. and Palmiter, R. D. and He, M. and Huang, Z. J. and Li, B. (2015) The paraventricular thalamus controls a central amygdala fear circuit. Nature, 519(7544) pp. 455-459.
Ahrens, S. and Jaramillo, S. and Yu, K. and Ghosh, S. and Hwang, G. and Paik, R. and Lai, C. and He, M. and Huang, Z. J. and Li, B. (2015) ErbB4 regulation of a thalamic reticular nucleus circuit for sensory selection. Nature Neuroscience, 18 pp. 104-111.
Li, H. and Penzo, M. A. and Taniguchi, H. and Kopec, C. D. and Huang, Z. J. and Li, B. (2013) Experience-dependent modification of a central amygdala fear circuit. Nature Neuroscience, 16(3) pp. 332-339.Additional materials of the author at
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