Henry Yin

Henry Yin

Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience and Director of Graduate Studies

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

O'Hare, J, Calakos, N, and Yin, HH. "Recent Insights into Corticostriatal Circuit Mechanisms underlying Habits: Invited review for Current Opinions in Behavioral Sciences." Current opinion in behavioral sciences 20 (April 2018): 40-46. Full Text

Rodriguez, E, Sakurai, K, Xu, J, Chen, Y, Toda, K, Zhao, S, Han, B-X, Ryu, D, Yin, H, Liedtke, W, and Wang, F. "A craniofacial-specific monosynaptic circuit enables heightened affective pain." Nature neuroscience 20.12 (December 2017): 1734-1743. Full Text

Toda, K, Lusk, NA, Watson, GDR, Kim, N, Lu, D, Li, HE, Meck, WH, and Yin, HH. "Nigrotectal Stimulation Stops Interval Timing in Mice." Current biology : CB 27.24 (December 2017): 3763-3770.e3. Full Text

O'Hare, JK, Li, H, Kim, N, Gaidis, E, Ade, K, Beck, J, Yin, H, and Calakos, N. "Striatal fast-spiking interneurons selectively modulate circuit output and are required for habitual behavior." eLife 6 (September 5, 2017). Full Text

Yin, HH. "The Basal Ganglia in Action." The Neuroscientist 23.3 (June 2017): 299-313. Full Text

Wang, X, Bey, AL, Katz, BM, Badea, A, Kim, N, David, LK, Duffney, LJ, Kumar, S, Mague, SD, Hulbert, SW, Dutta, N, Hayrapetyan, V, Yu, C, Gaidis, E, Zhao, S, Ding, J-D, Xu, Q, Chung, L, Rodriguiz, RM, Wang, F, Weinberg, RJ, Wetsel, WC, Dzirasa, K, Yin, H, and Jiang, Y-H. "Altered mGluR5-Homer scaffolds and corticostriatal connectivity in a Shank3 complete knockout model of autism." Nature communications 7 (May 10, 2016): 11459-. Full Text Open Access Copy

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

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

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

O'Hare, JK, Ade, KK, Sukharnikova, T, Van Hooser, SD, Palmeri, ML, Yin, HH, and Calakos, N. "Pathway-Specific Striatal Substrates for Habitual Behavior." Neuron 89.3 (February 2016): 472-479. 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

Yin, HH, and Knowlton, BJ. "Addiction and learning in the brain." Handbook of Implicit Cognition and Addiction. January 1, 2005. 167-184. Full Text

Selected Grants

Striatal Circuits for Goal Pursuit awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2017 to 2022

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

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

Taking DISCO Live: Dual pathway Imaging of Striatal Circuit Output in vivo awarded by National Institutes of Health (Collaborator). 2017 to 2019

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

Basic predoctoral training in neuroscience awarded by National Institutes of Health (Training Faculty). 1992 to 2018

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