Li I. Zhang
Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute
University of Southern California
Keck School of Medicine
1501 San Pablo St.
Los Angeles, CA 90033
2005 Searle Scholar
Cortical computation is achieved by the dauntingly complex neural circuits, which we believe are constructed on the basis of functional modules or units that are stereotypical in their organization. Our research targets understanding the cytoarchitecture of these functional units. By combining modern electrophysiology and imaging techniques as well as by taking advantage of mice genetics, my laboratory will first focus on delineating the functional cortical synaptic circuits in the adult auditory cortex, and determining their contribution to the shaping of cortical representation and processing of sensory stimuli. We will then characterize the progressive development of functional cortical synaptic circuits to reveal the developmental rules for the formation of the synaptic circuits and the maturation of cortical function. Finally, by exploiting plasticity and genetic models, and by correlating the specific change of cortical synaptic circuitry with that of the cortical function in those models, we will pin down the determinant structural factor for the specific cortical function. We hope these lines of research will eventually provide a fundamental cellular and structural basis for the powerful computation that the cortex performs.
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