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    Li Zhang, PhD

    TitleProfessor of Physiology and Biophysics
    SchoolKeck School of Medicine of USC
    DepartmentZilkha Neurogenetic Institute
    AddressZNI 419 1501 San Pablo Street
    Health Sciences Campus
    Los Angeles California 90033
    Phone+1 323 442 4347
    vCardDownload vCard

      Collapse Overview 
      Collapse Overview
      As a systems neuroscientist, our ultimate research goal is to decipher the brain circuits, and to understand how perception and behaviors are generated and controlled, how the brain?s cortex adapts in response to changes in the dynamic external environment, and how specific changes in cortical functions result in neurological and psychiatric disorders. To address these highly challenging questions, our approach is to resolve the neural circuitry (how neurons are wired in the brain), i.e. the structural basis underlying the brain functions.

      Technical innovation is the key for exploring the dauntingly complex brain circuits. In the past years, we have committed substantial efforts in developing molecular/genetic and electrophysiological/imaging techniques for elucidating the neural circuits for both local neuronal computation and for controlling animal behavior. To this end, we have pioneered in applying in vivo whole-cell voltage-clamp recording, to reveal at the synaptic connection level, how the excitatory and inhibitory synaptic interplay determines the sensory response/processing properties. We have now integrated a broad spectrum of state-of-the-art approaches, including in vivo and in vitro electrophysiology, two-photon Ca2+ imaging, neural modeling, anatomical tracing and optogentics, to build an understanding of neural circuits composed of different cell types.


      Collapse Biography 
      Collapse Awards and Honors
      White House2008Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers
      David and Lucile Packard Foundation2006Packard Fellowship for Science and Engineering
      Searle Scholar Program, Kinship Foundation2005Searle Scholar Award
      The Esther A. & and Joseph Klingenstein Fund2005Klingenstein Fellowship Award in Neuroscience

      Collapse Bibliographic 
      Collapse Publications
      Publications listed below are automatically derived from MEDLINE/PubMed and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing publications. Researchers can login to make corrections and additions, or contact us for help.
      List All   |   Timeline
      1. Kim YJ, Wang SZ, Tymanskyj S, Ma L, Tao HW, Zhang L. Dcc Mediates Functional Assembly of Peripheral Auditory Circuits. Sci Rep. 2016; 6:23799. PMID: 27040640.
        View in: PubMed
      2. Ibrahim LA, Mesik L, Ji XY, Fang Q, Li HF, Li YT, Zingg B, Zhang L, Tao HW. Cross-Modality Sharpening of Visual Cortical Processing through Layer-1-Mediated Inhibition and Disinhibition. Neuron. 2016 Mar 2; 89(5):1031-45. PMID: 26898778.
        View in: PubMed
      3. Li YT, Liu BH, Chou XL, Zhang L, Tao HW. Synaptic Basis for Differential Orientation Selectivity between Complex and Simple Cells in Mouse Visual Cortex. J Neurosci. 2015 Aug 5; 35(31):11081-93. PMID: 26245969.
        View in: PubMed
      4. Kim YJ, Ibrahim LA, Wang SZ, Yuan W, Evgrafov OV, Knowles JA, Wang K, Tao HW, Zhang L. EphA7 regulates spiral ganglion innervation of cochlear hair cells. Dev Neurobiol. 2016 Apr; 76(4):452-69. PMID: 26178595.
        View in: PubMed
      5. Xiong XR, Liang F, Zingg B, Ji XY, Ibrahim LA, Tao HW, Zhang L. Auditory cortex controls sound-driven innate defense behaviour through corticofugal projections to inferior colliculus. Nat Commun. 2015; 6:7224. PMID: 26068082.
        View in: PubMed
      6. Mesik L, Ma WP, Li LY, Ibrahim LA, Huang ZJ, Zhang L, Tao HW. Functional response properties of VIP-expressing inhibitory neurons in mouse visual and auditory cortex. Front Neural Circuits. 2015; 9:22. PMID: 26106301.
        View in: PubMed
      7. Ji XY, Zingg B, Mesik L, Xiao Z, Zhang L, Tao HW. Thalamocortical Innervation Pattern in Mouse Auditory and Visual Cortex: Laminar and Cell-Type Specificity. Cereb Cortex. 2016 Jun; 26(6):2612-25. PMID: 25979090.
        View in: PubMed
      8. Liang F, Xiong XR, Zingg B, Ji XY, Zhang L, Tao HW. Sensory Cortical Control of a Visually Induced Arrest Behavior via Corticotectal Projections. Neuron. 2015 May 6; 86(3):755-67. PMID: 25913860.
        View in: PubMed
      9. Zhou M, Li YT, Yuan W, Tao HW, Zhang L. Synaptic mechanisms for generating temporal diversity of auditory representation in the dorsal cochlear nucleus. J Neurophysiol. 2015 Mar 1; 113(5):1358-68. PMID: 25475349.
        View in: PubMed
      10. Liang F, Bai L, Tao HW, Zhang L, Xiao Z. Thresholding of auditory cortical representation by background noise. Front Neural Circuits. 2014; 8:133. PMID: 25426029.
        View in: PubMed
      11. Li LY, Ji XY, Liang F, Li YT, Xiao Z, Tao HW, Zhang L. A feedforward inhibitory circuit mediates lateral refinement of sensory representation in upper layer 2/3 of mouse primary auditory cortex. J Neurosci. 2014 Oct 8; 34(41):13670-83. PMID: 25297094.
        View in: PubMed
      12. Tao HW, Li YT, Zhang L. Formation of excitation-inhibition balance: inhibition listens and changes its tune. Trends Neurosci. 2014 Oct; 37(10):528-30. PMID: 25248294.
        View in: PubMed
      13. Albers MW, Gilmore GC, Kaye J, Murphy C, Wingfield A, Bennett DA, Boxer AL, Buchman AS, Cruickshanks KJ, Devanand DP, Duffy CJ, Gall CM, Gates GA, Granholm AC, Hensch T, Holtzer R, Hyman BT, Lin FR, McKee AC, Morris JC, Petersen RC, Silbert LC, Struble RG, Trojanowski JQ, Verghese J, Wilson DA, Xu S, Zhang L. At the interface of sensory and motor dysfunctions and Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimers Dement. 2015 Jan; 11(1):70-98. PMID: 25022540.
        View in: PubMed
      14. Zhou M, Liang F, Xiong XR, Li L, Li H, Xiao Z, Tao HW, Zhang L. Scaling down of balanced excitation and inhibition by active behavioral states in auditory cortex. Nat Neurosci. 2014 Jun; 17(6):841-50. PMID: 24747575.
        View in: PubMed
      15. Li YT, Liu BH, Chou XL, Zhang L, Tao HW. Strengthening of Direction Selectivity by Broadly Tuned and Spatiotemporally Slightly Offset Inhibition in Mouse Visual Cortex. Cereb Cortex. 2015 Sep; 25(9):2466-77. PMID: 24654259.
        View in: PubMed
      16. Liu Y, Kim YJ, Ji M, Fang J, Siriwon N, Zhang L, Wang P. Enhancing gene delivery of adeno-associated viruses by cell-permeable peptides. Mol Ther Methods Clin Dev. 2014; 1:12. PMID: 26015948.
        View in: PubMed
      17. Li LY, Xiong XR, Ibrahim LA, Yuan W, Tao HW, Zhang L. Differential Receptive Field Properties of Parvalbumin and Somatostatin Inhibitory Neurons in Mouse Auditory Cortex. Cereb Cortex. 2015 Jul; 25(7):1782-91. PMID: 24425250.
        View in: PubMed
      18. Xiong XR, Liang F, Li H, Mesik L, Zhang KK, Polley DB, Tao HW, Xiao Z, Zhang L. Interaural level difference-dependent gain control and synaptic scaling underlying binaural computation. Neuron. 2013 Aug 21; 79(4):738-53. PMID: 23972599.
        View in: PubMed
      19. Li LY, Li YT, Zhou M, Tao HW, Zhang L. Intracortical multiplication of thalamocortical signals in mouse auditory cortex. Nat Neurosci. 2013 Sep; 16(9):1179-81. PMID: 23933752.
        View in: PubMed
      20. Li YT, Ibrahim LA, Liu BH, Zhang L, Tao HW. Linear transformation of thalamocortical input by intracortical excitation. Nat Neurosci. 2013 Sep; 16(9):1324-30. PMID: 23933750.
        View in: PubMed
      21. Wang SZ, Ibrahim LA, Kim YJ, Gibson DA, Leung HC, Yuan W, Zhang KK, Tao HW, Ma L, Zhang L. Slit/Robo signaling mediates spatial positioning of spiral ganglion neurons during development of cochlear innervation. J Neurosci. 2013 Jul 24; 33(30):12242-54. PMID: 23884932.
        View in: PubMed
      22. Sun YJ, Kim YJ, Ibrahim LA, Tao HW, Zhang L. Synaptic mechanisms underlying functional dichotomy between intrinsic-bursting and regular-spiking neurons in auditory cortical layer 5. J Neurosci. 2013 Mar 20; 33(12):5326-39. PMID: 23516297.
        View in: PubMed
      23. Zhou M, Tao HW, Zhang L. Generation of intensity selectivity by differential synaptic tuning: fast-saturating excitation but slow-saturating inhibition. J Neurosci. 2012 Dec 12; 32(50):18068-78. PMID: 23238722.
        View in: PubMed
      24. Zhou Y, Mesik L, Sun YJ, Liang F, Xiao Z, Tao HW, Zhang L. Generation of spike latency tuning by thalamocortical circuits in auditory cortex. J Neurosci. 2012 Jul 18; 32(29):9969-80. PMID: 22815511.
        View in: PubMed
      25. Li YT, Ma WP, Pan CJ, Zhang L, Tao HW. Broadening of cortical inhibition mediates developmental sharpening of orientation selectivity. J Neurosci. 2012 Mar 21; 32(12):3981-91. PMID: 22442065.
        View in: PubMed
      26. Chong SY, Rosenberg SS, Fancy SP, Zhao C, Shen YA, Hahn AT, McGee AW, Xu X, Zheng B, Zhang L, Rowitch DH, Franklin RJ, Lu QR, Chan JR. Neurite outgrowth inhibitor Nogo-A establishes spatial segregation and extent of oligodendrocyte myelination. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Jan 24; 109(4):1299-304. PMID: 22160722.
        View in: PubMed
      27. Zhang L, Zhou Y, Tao HW. Perspectives on: information and coding in mammalian sensory physiology: inhibitory synaptic mechanisms underlying functional diversity in auditory cortex. J Gen Physiol. 2011 Sep; 138(3):311-20. PMID: 21875980.
        View in: PubMed
      28. Liu BH, Li YT, Ma WP, Pan CJ, Zhang L, Tao HW. Broad inhibition sharpens orientation selectivity by expanding input dynamic range in mouse simple cells. Neuron. 2011 Aug 11; 71(3):542-54. PMID: 21835349.
        View in: PubMed
      29. Wu GK, Tao HW, Zhang L. From elementary synaptic circuits to information processing in primary auditory cortex. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2011 Nov; 35(10):2094-104. PMID: 21609731.
        View in: PubMed
      30. Ma WP, Liu BH, Li YT, Huang ZJ, Zhang L, Tao HW. Visual representations by cortical somatostatin inhibitory neurons--selective but with weak and delayed responses. J Neurosci. 2010 Oct 27; 30(43):14371-9. PMID: 20980594.
        View in: PubMed
      31. Sun YJ, Wu GK, Liu BH, Li P, Zhou M, Xiao Z, Tao HW, Zhang L. Fine-tuning of pre-balanced excitation and inhibition during auditory cortical development. Nature. 2010 Jun 17; 465(7300):927-31. PMID: 20559386.
        View in: PubMed
      32. Zhou Y, Liu BH, Wu GK, Kim YJ, Xiao Z, Tao HW, Zhang L. Preceding inhibition silences layer 6 neurons in auditory cortex. Neuron. 2010 Mar 11; 65(5):706-17. PMID: 20223205.
        View in: PubMed
      33. Liu BH, Li P, Sun YJ, Li YT, Zhang L, Tao HW. Intervening inhibition underlies simple-cell receptive field structure in visual cortex. Nat Neurosci. 2010 Jan; 13(1):89-96. PMID: 19946318.
        View in: PubMed
      34. Liu BH, Li P, Li YT, Sun YJ, Yanagawa Y, Obata K, Zhang L, Tao HW. Visual receptive field structure of cortical inhibitory neurons revealed by two-photon imaging guided recording. J Neurosci. 2009 Aug 26; 29(34):10520-32. PMID: 19710305.
        View in: PubMed
      35. Wang SZ, Liu BH, Tao HW, Xia K, Zhang L. A genetic strategy for stochastic gene activation with regulated sparseness (STARS). PLoS One. 2009; 4(1):e4200. PMID: 19145242.
        View in: PubMed
      36. Wu GK, Arbuckle R, Liu BH, Tao HW, Zhang L. Lateral sharpening of cortical frequency tuning by approximately balanced inhibition. Neuron. 2008 Apr 10; 58(1):132-43. PMID: 18400169.
        View in: PubMed
      37. Liu BH, Wu GK, Arbuckle R, Tao HW, Zhang L. Defining cortical frequency tuning with recurrent excitatory circuitry. Nat Neurosci. 2007 Dec; 10(12):1594-600. PMID: 17994013.
        View in: PubMed
      38. Liu Y, Zhang L, Tao HW. Heterosynaptic scaling of developing GABAergic synapses: dependence on glutamatergic input and developmental stage. J Neurosci. 2007 May 16; 27(20):5301-12. PMID: 17507553.
        View in: PubMed
      39. Wu GK, Li P, Tao HW, Zhang L. Nonmonotonic synaptic excitation and imbalanced inhibition underlying cortical intensity tuning. Neuron. 2006 Nov 22; 52(4):705-15. PMID: 17114053.
        View in: PubMed
      40. Nakahara H, Zhang L, Merzenich MM. Specialization of primary auditory cortex processing by sound exposure in the "critical period". Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 May 4; 101(18):7170-4. PMID: 15118079.
        View in: PubMed
      41. Tan AY, Zhang L, Merzenich MM, Schreiner CE. Tone-evoked excitatory and inhibitory synaptic conductances of primary auditory cortex neurons. J Neurophysiol. 2004 Jul; 92(1):630-43. PMID: 14999047.
        View in: PubMed
      42. Zhang L, Tan AY, Schreiner CE, Merzenich MM. Topography and synaptic shaping of direction selectivity in primary auditory cortex. Nature. 2003 Jul 10; 424(6945):201-5. PMID: 12853959.
        View in: PubMed
      43. Bao S, Chan VT, Zhang L, Merzenich MM. Suppression of cortical representation through backward conditioning. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 Feb 4; 100(3):1405-8. PMID: 12538854.
        View in: PubMed
      44. Engert F, Tao HW, Zhang L, Poo MM. Moving visual stimuli rapidly induce direction sensitivity of developing tectal neurons. Nature. 2002 Oct 3; 419(6906):470-5. PMID: 12368854.
        View in: PubMed
      45. Zhang L, Bao S, Merzenich MM. Disruption of primary auditory cortex by synchronous auditory inputs during a critical period. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2002 Feb 19; 99(4):2309-14. PMID: 11842227.
        View in: PubMed
      46. Zhang L, Poo MM. Electrical activity and development of neural circuits. Nat Neurosci. 2001 Nov; 4 Suppl:1207-14. PMID: 11687831.
        View in: PubMed
      47. Zhang L, Bao S, Merzenich MM. Persistent and specific influences of early acoustic environments on primary auditory cortex. Nat Neurosci. 2001 Nov; 4(11):1123-30. PMID: 11687817.
        View in: PubMed
      48. Tao HW, Zhang L, Engert F, Poo M. Emergence of input specificity of ltp during development of retinotectal connections in vivo. Neuron. 2001 Aug 30; 31(4):569-80. PMID: 11545716.
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      49. Zhang L, Tao HW, Poo M. Visual input induces long-term potentiation of developing retinotectal synapses. Nat Neurosci. 2000 Jul; 3(7):708-15. PMID: 10862704.
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      50. Tao H, Zhang L, Bi G, Poo M. Selective presynaptic propagation of long-term potentiation in defined neural networks. J Neurosci. 2000 May 1; 20(9):3233-43. PMID: 10777788.
        View in: PubMed
      51. Zhang L, Tao HW, Holt CE, Harris WA, Poo M. A critical window for cooperation and competition among developing retinotectal synapses. Nature. 1998 Sep 3; 395(6697):37-44. PMID: 9738497.
        View in: PubMed
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