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.
Interview with a neuroscientist
May 31, 2019
CSHL Professor Bo Li’s lab studies the biology behind mental disorders. Learn more about how Li’s work is changing the way we think about mental health.
May 31, 2019
Let us pick your brain with some neuroscience trivia.
How the brain hears and fears
December 5, 2018
Researchers are studying how the brain reacts to sounds that it associates with fear, and how easy it is for the brain to learn and unlearn.
Scientists show how brain circuit generates anxiety
May 29, 2018
Researchers have identified a circuit in the brain that drives anxiety
Portrait of a Neuroscience Powerhouse
April 27, 2018
A relatively small neuroscience group at CSHL is having an outsized impact on a dynamic and highly competitive field
CSHL’s Bo Li receives BRAIN Initiative funding
December 28, 2017
CSHL Professor Bo Li and two collaborators at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) have been awarded a new grant under the BRAIN Initiative
Research revises our knowledge of how the brain learns to fear
October 23, 2017
A team at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory led by Professor Bo Li found evidence indicating the central amygdala is key to to aversive learning.
Was it better or worse than you expected? Your basal ganglia know – so you can act accordingly
September 21, 2016
Researchers have uncovered a neural circuit that processes evaluations and have succeeded in identifying its sources.
CSHL scientists Bo Li and Je Lee win HFSP Research Grant awards
April 12, 2016
Associate Professor Bo Li and Assistant Professor Je Lee, are among 25 teams that have won Human Frontier Science Program Research Program Grants
Luis A. Mejia, Ph.D., is named 2015 Arnold O. Beckman Postdoctoral Fellow
July 22, 2015
Mejia will receive funding for at least two years from the Foundation, works in the laboratory of Dr. Bo Li
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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