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Department of Zoology and Physiology

College of Arts and Sciences

Yun Li

Assistant Professor

Biological Sciences, Room 414; Lab 425



B.S., Biology: University of Science and Technology of China, 1996

M.S., Biology: University of Science and Technology of China, 1998

Ph.D., Physiology: University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, 2003

Postdoctoral, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Research Interests:

I am interested in understanding how neural activity carries information to guide behavior. I have focused my studies on neural encoding mechanisms in the prefrontal cortex (PFC). PFC plays an essential role in planning, reasoning, decision-making, and problem-solving. Disruptions in the PFC neural circuitry are associated with behavioral abnormalities in a variety of brain disorders. I will apply multidisciplinary approaches, including innovative miniScope in vivo calcium imaging in freely behaving mice, in combination of optogenetics and viral-genetic tools, to study neural circuit mechanisms of depression, autism, and dementia in the PFC.


Human Systems Physiology (ZOO3115, Fall and Spring)

Introduction of Neuroscience (ZOO4280/NEUR5280, Fall)

Selective Publications:

  1. Liang B, Zhang L, Barbera G, Fang W, Zhang J, Chen X, Chen R, Li Y*,#, Lin DT*. 2018. Distinct and dynamic ON and OFF neural ensembles in the prefrontal cortex code social exploration. Neuron 100, 700-714. (*Co-corresponding authors, #Lead Contact)
  2. Barbera G, Liang B, Zhang L, Gerfen CR, Culurciello E, Chen R*, Li Y*, Lin DT*. 2016. Spatially compact neural clusters in the dorsal striatum encode locomotion relevant information. Neuron 92(1), 202-213. (*Co-corresponding authors)
  3. Zhang W, Zhang L, Liang B, Schroeder D, Zhang ZW, Cox GA, Li Y*, Lin DT*. 2016. Hyperactive somatostatin interneurons contribute to excitotoxicity in neurodegenerative disorders. Nat Neurosci 19(4), 557-559. (*Co-corresponding authors)

** I am currently recruiting graduate students and post-doctoral fellows.

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