“My personal field of research is neurobiology. At present, we are focusing on using mouse and rat models to study the underlying neural circuits that mediate the social behaviors and emotions.
Social behavior represents one of the most important behaviors of higher animals include human beings, playing significant role in increasing reproduction and survival. On the contrary, social behavior disorder is regarded as a prominent feature of various neuropsychiatric disorders like autism, schizophrenia, and social phobia, etc. Therefore, learning how human brain generates social behaviors is of great significance for understanding the behavior itself and curing some psychiatric diseases. Across the animal kingdom, most mammals respond to sensory cues emitted by conspecifics, and a repertoire of social behaviors such as mating, fighting, prey capture, and predator avoidance.. From that perspective, learning how brain encodes social information and triggers corresponding social behaviors is necessary in the field of neuroscience.
Generally, mammals can generate complex social behaviors only in the natural state, especially when moving freely. But for a long time, how the brain encodes social information under natural conditions are largely unknown, since electrical activities of neural ensemble in free-moving mammals are not able to be recorded simultaneously by traditional methods, which has become a major obstacle to further study. To solve this problem, we first used microendoscope-based calcium imaging in free-moving mice to record the calcium signals of the medial amygdala that is an essential encephalic region in charge of the instinctive social behaviors. So as to reveal its encoding features correspond to different social information. In addition, we also found that oxytocin, as a kind of neuropeptide, plays a key role for male mouse in distinguishing the gender of its species, but has little effect on females. It further reveals the neurobiological basis of social behavioral differences between genders, and provides a new mechanism for understanding brain plasticity changes.
In our recent research, we apply and develop interdisciplinary methods (including dual-color microendoscope-based calcium imaging, single-cell sequencing, in vivo and ex vivo electrophysiology approaches, etc.) to learn the generation and adaptation mechanism of social information encoding, as well as of social cognition and emotion. My main interests include: 1. the encoding mechanisms in the brain of different kinds of social information; 2. the role of neuromodulation system in social information encoding and social behavior generation; 3. the neurobiological basis of social cognitive and affective disorders; 4. differences and similarities between young and adult individuals in social information processing. I hope that our research will facilitate further understanding of the social behaviors and emotions of human beings, so as to lead new therapeutic directions of some affective disorders.”
Dr. Ying LI, born in 1987, got the Bachelor of Biology at Nanjing University in 2007, and Ph.D. in Neuroscience at Institute of Neuroscience, Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2013 with Wu Rui Scholarship and the President Award of Chinese Academy of Sciences. In the same year, she joined in the laboratory of Prof. Catherine Dulac, the faculty of Molecular and Cellular Biology Department of Harvard University, winner of Breakthrough Prize and academician of American NAS, for postdoctoral research. She was financially supported by Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) and Long-term Postdoctoral Fellowship in 2014, and won Harvard Chinese Life Science Annual Distinguished Research Award in 2018. Dr. LI joined CIBR in 2019, and is currently working as the investigator and Ph.D. supervisor.
Focusing on the research of animal social behaviors and emotions, she has 5 publications on SCI journals include Cell, Developmental Cell and Current Opinion in Neurobiology (cover), etc., with over 400 citations. In addition, several ongoing projects of her group have won supports from European HFSP Career Development Award, General Program of NSFC and Beijing Science and Technology Rising Star Program.