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Li Zhang, PhD

Title(s)Professor of Physiology & Neuroscience
Phone+1 323 442 4347
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    Other Positions
    Title(s)Director of the Center for Neural Circuits and Sensory Processing Disorders


    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 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 Research 
    Collapse Research Activities and Funding
    Cell atlas of mouse brain-spinal cord connectome
    NIH/NIMH U01MH116990Sep 1, 2018 - May 31, 2023
    Role: Principal Investigator
    Novel fluorescent sensors based on GPCRs for imaging neuromodulation
    NIH/NINDS U01NS103558Sep 30, 2017 - Jun 30, 2020
    Role: Co-Principal Investigator
    Integrative approach to classifying neuronal cell types of the mouse hippocampus
    NIH/NIMH RF1MH114112Sep 1, 2017 - Aug 31, 2020
    Role: Co-Principal Investigator
    Synaptic circuitry mechanism for auditory cortical processing
    NIH/NIDCD R01DC008983Aug 1, 2007 - Aug 31, 2024
    Role: Principal Investigator
    Synaptic Receptive Field of Auditory Cortical Inhibitory Neuron
    NIH/NIDCD R21DC008588Dec 1, 2006 - Nov 30, 2009
    Role: Principal Investigator
    Synaptic basis for cortical tonal receptive field
    NIH/NIDCD R03DC006814Jan 1, 2005 - Dec 31, 2007
    Role: Principal Investigator

    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 LI. Dcc Mediates Functional Assembly of Peripheral Auditory Circuits. Sci Rep. 2016 Apr 04; 6:23799. PMID: 27040640.
      View in: PubMed
    2. Ibrahim LA, Mesik L, Ji XY, Fang Q, Li HF, Li YT, Zingg B, Zhang LI, Tao HW. Cross-Modality Sharpening of Visual Cortical Processing through Layer-1-Mediated Inhibition and Disinhibition. Neuron. 2016 Mar 02; 89(5):1031-45. PMID: 26898778.
      View in: PubMed
    3. Li YT, Liu BH, Chou XL, Zhang LI, Tao HW. Synaptic Basis for Differential Orientation Selectivity between Complex and Simple Cells in Mouse Visual Cortex. J Neurosci. 2015 Aug 05; 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 LI. 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 LI. Auditory cortex controls sound-driven innate defense behaviour through corticofugal projections to inferior colliculus. Nat Commun. 2015 Jun 11; 6:7224. PMID: 26068082.
      View in: PubMed
    6. Mesik L, Ma WP, Li LY, Ibrahim LA, Huang ZJ, Zhang LI, 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 LI, Tao HW. Thalamocortical Innervation Pattern in Mouse Auditory and Visual Cortex: Laminar and Cell-Type Specificity. Cereb Cortex. 2016 06; 26(6):2612-25. PMID: 25979090.
      View in: PubMed
    8. Liang F, Xiong XR, Zingg B, Ji XY, Zhang LI, Tao HW. Sensory Cortical Control of a Visually Induced Arrest Behavior via Corticotectal Projections. Neuron. 2015 May 06; 86(3):755-67. PMID: 25913860.
      View in: PubMed
    9. Zhou M, Li YT, Yuan W, Tao HW, Zhang LI. Synaptic mechanisms for generating temporal diversity of auditory representation in the dorsal cochlear nucleus. J Neurophysiol. 2015 Mar 01; 113(5):1358-68. PMID: 25475349.
      View in: PubMed
    10. Liang F, Bai L, Tao HW, Zhang LI, 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 LI. A feedforward inhibitory circuit mediates lateral refinement of sensory representation in upper layer 2/3 of mouse primary auditory cortex. J Neurosci. 2014 Oct 08; 34(41):13670-83. PMID: 25297094.
      View in: PubMed
    12. Tao HW, Li YT, Zhang LI. 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 LI. 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 LI. 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 LI, 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 LI, 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 LI. 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 LI. 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 YT, Ibrahim LA, Liu BH, Zhang LI, Tao HW. Linear transformation of thalamocortical input by intracortical excitation. Nat Neurosci. 2013 Sep; 16(9):1324-30. PMID: 23933750.
      View in: PubMed
    20. Li LY, Li YT, Zhou M, Tao HW, Zhang LI. Intracortical multiplication of thalamocortical signals in mouse auditory cortex. Nat Neurosci. 2013 Sep; 16(9):1179-81. PMID: 23933752.
      View in: PubMed
    21. Wang SZ, Ibrahim LA, Kim YJ, Gibson DA, Leung HC, Yuan W, Zhang KK, Tao HW, Ma L, Zhang LI. 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 LI. 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 LI. 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 LI. 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 LI, 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 LI, 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 LI, 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 LI, 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 LI. 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 LI, 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 LI. 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 LI. 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 LI, 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 LI, 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 LI. 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 LI. 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 LI. 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 LI, 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 LI. 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 LI, Merzenich MM. Specialization of primary auditory cortex processing by sound exposure in the "critical period". Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 May 04; 101(18):7170-4. PMID: 15118079.
      View in: PubMed
    41. Tan AY, Zhang LI, 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 LI, 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 LI, Merzenich MM. Suppression of cortical representation through backward conditioning. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 Feb 04; 100(3):1405-8. PMID: 12538854.
      View in: PubMed
    44. Engert F, Tao HW, Zhang LI, Poo MM. Moving visual stimuli rapidly induce direction sensitivity of developing tectal neurons. Nature. 2002 Oct 03; 419(6906):470-5. PMID: 12368854.
      View in: PubMed
    45. Zhang LI, 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 LI, 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
    47. Zhang LI, Poo MM. Electrical activity and development of neural circuits. Nat Neurosci. 2001 Nov; 4 Suppl:1207-14. PMID: 11687831.
      View in: PubMed
    48. Tao HW, Zhang LI, 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.
      View in: PubMed
    49. Zhang LI, Tao HW, Poo M. Visual input induces long-term potentiation of developing retinotectal synapses. Nat Neurosci. 2000 Jul; 3(7):708-15. PMID: 10862704.
      View in: PubMed
    50. Tao H, Zhang LI, Bi G, Poo M. Selective presynaptic propagation of long-term potentiation in defined neural networks. J Neurosci. 2000 May 01; 20(9):3233-43. PMID: 10777788.
      View in: PubMed
    51. Zhang LI, Tao HW, Holt CE, Harris WA, Poo M. A critical window for cooperation and competition among developing retinotectal synapses. Nature. 1998 Sep 03; 395(6697):37-44. PMID: 9738497.
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