Dr. Li obtained his MD degree from Peking University Health Science Center in 2002 and his Ph.D. in Neurobiology with Dr. David Fitzpatrick from Duke University in 2008. In 2010, he joined Dr. Yang Dan’s laboratory at Howard Hughes Medical Institute/University of California, Berkeley for his postdoctoral training. Using two-photon imaging combined with viral and molecular techniques, he demonstrated that cell lineage also plays an important role in specifying the neuronal circuits for orientation preference in the mouse visual cortex. More recently, Dr. Li has been developing techniques to perform chronic two-photon calcium imaging and electrophysiological recordings in awake behaving animals. Dr. Li joined ZIINT as Principle Investigator in May, 2015.
My general research interests are to understand the relative importance of “nature vs nurture” in specifying functional organization of the cerebral cortex, the most complex area of the brain whose proper function is essential for sensory perception, motor control and cognition. In primary visual cortex (V1), where visual signals are first processed by cortical circuits, neurons are tuned to different features of visual stimuli, such as orientation of edges and direction of motion etc. My previous work makes an excellent demonstration that both experience and cell lineage play important roles in shaping the visual cortical functions: an “instructive" role of experience in the development of direction selectivity in ferret visual cortex (Li et al Nature 2008) and a "clonal-functional relationship” in which the clonally-related sister neurons shared similar orientation preference in mouse visual cortex (Li et al Nature 2012). My goal is to manage a vibrant and collaborative laboratory which is dedicated to understand perception and cognition from a developmental point of view, aiming to bridge developmental and systems neuroscience. In my laboratory, my colleagues and I will apply state-of-the-art molecular and viral techniques, in vivo two-photon imaging and electrophysiological recording to dissect the neural circuits on fine scales and visualize population-scale cortical neural activity with single-cell resolution in both anesthetized and awake behaving animals.
The current projects are:
1. Microcircuits underlying the “clonal-functional relationship" of mouse V1 and how that circuits are modified by experience and neuronal activity.
2. Functional organization of mouse PFC that encodes “cognitive” representation and how the task-related neuronal functions are related to their clonal origins.
3. Developing chronic two-photon calcium imaging in awake nonhuman primates through collaboration.
2007 Best Graduate Student Talk of Department of Neurobiology Retreat
Best Student Poster of The Robertson Prize
2004 Excellence in Neuroscience of The Robertson Award
1999 Third-class Award of The Pacific Cup in "99 Beijing Local Pharmaceutical" Academic Conference
1. Li Y, Lu H, Cheng PL, Ge S, Xu H, Shi SH and Dan Y*, Clonally related visual cortical neurons show similar stimulus feature selectivity. Nature, 486 (7401): 118-21 (2012).
2. Van Hooser SD, Li Y, Christensson M, Smith G, White LE and Fitzpatrick D*, Initial Neighborhood Biases and the Quality of Motion Stimulation Jointly Influence the Rapid Emergence of Direction Preference in Visual Cortex. J Neurosci. 32 (21): 7258-66 (2012).
3. Li Y, Van Hooser SD, Mazurek M, White LE and Fitzpatrick D*, Experience with moving visual stimuli drive the early development of cortical direction selectivity. Nature, 456 (7224): 952-96 (2008).
4. Li Y, Fitzpatrick D and White LE*, The development of direction selectivity in ferret visual cortex requires early visual experience. Nature Neurosci. 9(5):676-81 (2006).
5. Van Hooser DS, Li Y, Culp J. Arani R, Kasliwal R and Flavahan K (2015), Practical methods for in vivo cortical physiology with 2-photon microscopy and bulk loading of fluorescent calcium indicator dyes. Neuronal Tracing Methods: Tracing Neurons and their connections. Springer: 2015, Chapter 6.