FacultyYun Li

Graduate Neuroscience Program

Faculty Pictures





I am interested in understanding the biological basis of behavior. I believe that the pattern of neural activity contains some version of information, since all sensory signals are converted into neural activity, and the contents of our thoughts, emotions and knowledge are all carried by neural activity. 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 crack the neural code of PFC.


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


Human Systems Physiology (ZOO3115, Fall and Spring)

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 (In press) (*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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