Henry Yin

Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., University of California at Los Angeles 2004


I am interested in understanding the neural mechanisms underlying goal-directed actions. For the first time in history, advances in psychology and neurobiology have made it feasible to pursue the detailed neural mechanisms underlying goal-directed and voluntary actions--how they are driven by the needs and desires of the organism and controlled by cognitive processes that provide a rich representation of the self and the world. My approach to this problem is highly integrative, combining behavioral analysis with electrophysiological techniques as well as tools from molecular biology. In the near future three techniques will be emphasized. 1) Dissecting reward-guided behavior using analytical behavioral assays. 2) In vivo recording from cerebral cortex, thalamus, midbrain, and basal ganglia in awake behaving rodents. Up to hundreds of neurons can be recorded from multiple brain areas that form a functional neural network in a single animal. 3) In vitro (and ex vivo) whole-cell patch-clamp recording in brain slices, with the aid of genetic tools for visualization of distinct neuronal populations. Ultimately, I hope to characterize goal-directed actions at multiple levels of analysis--from molecules to neural networks. This knowledge will provide us with insight into various pathological conditions characterized by impaired goal-directed behaviors, such as drug addiction, obsessive-compulsive disorder, Parkinson's disease, and Huntington's disease.


Reward, action, goal, learning, habit, basal ganglia, brain, motivation

Rossi, MA, Li, HE, Lu, D, Kim, IH, Bartholomew, RA, Gaidis, E, Barter, JW, Kim, N, Cai, MT, Soderling, SH, and Yin, HH. "A GABAergic nigrotectal pathway for coordination of drinking behavior." Nature neuroscience 19.5 (May 2016): 742-748. Full Text

Yin, HH. "The role of opponent basal ganglia outputs in behavior." Future Neurology 11.2 (May 2016): 149-169. Full Text

Bartholomew, RA, Li, H, Gaidis, EJ, Stackmann, M, Shoemaker, CT, Rossi, MA, and Yin, HH. "Striatonigral control of movement velocity in mice." The European journal of neuroscience 43.8 (April 2016): 1097-1110. Full Text

Berglund, K, Clissold, K, Li, HE, Wen, L, Park, SY, Gleixner, J, Klein, ME, Lu, D, Barter, JW, Rossi, MA, Augustine, GJ, Yin, HH, and Hochgeschwender, U. "Luminopsins integrate opto- and chemogenetics by using physical and biological light sources for opsin activation." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 113.3 (January 19, 2016): E358-E367. Full Text

Kim, IH, Rossi, MA, Aryal, DK, Racz, B, Kim, N, Uezu, A, Wang, F, Wetsel, WC, Weinberg, RJ, Yin, H, and Soderling, SH. "Spine pruning drives antipsychotic-sensitive locomotion via circuit control of striatal dopamine." Nature neuroscience 18.6 (June 2015): 883-891. Full Text

Barter, JW, Li, S, Lu, D, Bartholomew, RA, Rossi, MA, Shoemaker, CT, Salas-Meza, D, Gaidis, E, and Yin, HH. "Beyond reward prediction errors: the role of dopamine in movement kinematics." Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience 9 (May 27, 2015). Full Text

Rossi, MA, and Yin, HH. "Elevated dopamine alters consummatory pattern generation and increases behavioral variability during learning." Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience 09 (May 15, 2015). Full Text

Rossi, MA, Calakos, N, and Yin, HH. "Spotlight on movement disorders: What optogenetics has to offer." Movement disorders : official journal of the Movement Disorder Society 30.5 (April 2015): 624-631. Full Text

Barter, JW, Li, S, Sukharnikova, T, Rossi, MA, Bartholomew, RA, and Yin, HH. "Basal ganglia outputs map instantaneous position coordinates during behavior." The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience 35.6 (February 2015): 2703-2716. Full Text

Jenkins, PM, Kim, N, Jones, SL, Tseng, WC, Svitkina, TM, Yin, HH, and Bennett, V. "Giant ankyrin-G: a critical innovation in vertebrate evolution of fast and integrated neuronal signaling." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 112.4 (January 2015): 957-964. Full Text


Yin, HH. "Restoring purpose in behavior." Computational and Robotic Models of the Hierarchical Organization of Behavior. January 1, 2013. 319-347. Full Text

The Role of Opponent Basal Ganglia Outputs in Behavior awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2017 to 2021

Dissecting basal ganglia circuit mechanisms underlying instrumental learning awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2016 to 2021

Akt/GSK-3 Signaling Cascade and the Actions of Dopamine awarded by National Institutes of Health (Collaborator). 2005 to 2020

The Regulation of Synaptic Connectivity and Homeostasis by Huntingtin awarded by National Institutes of Health (Co Investigator). 2016 to 2020

Neural-Glial Interactions and Opioid Abuse: Modulation by Early-Life Experience awarded by National Institutes of Health (Collaborator). 2013 to 2018

Analysis of Shank3 Complete and Temporal and Spatial Specific Knockout Mice awarded by National Institutes of Health (Collaborator). 2012 to 2018

From Good Habit to Bad: Examining the relationship between habit learning and compulsivity awarded by McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience (Collaborator). 2014 to 2017

Neural Mechanisms of Habit Formation and Maintenance awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2011 to 2016

Physiological Effects of Ethanol on Neural Circuits Mediating Habit Formation awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2008 to 2013

Ethanol Effects on Neostriatal Function awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2008 to 2011