Henry Yin

Henry Yin

Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience and Director of Graduate Studies

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., University of California - 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

Rodriguez, Erica, et al. “Publisher Correction: A craniofacial-specific monosynaptic circuit enables heightened affective pain.Nat Neurosci, vol. 21, no. 6, June 2018, p. 896. Pubmed, doi:10.1038/s41593-018-0103-7. Full Text

Bey, Alexandra L., et al. “Brain region-specific disruption of Shank3 in mice reveals a dissociation for cortical and striatal circuits in autism-related behaviors.Transl Psychiatry, vol. 8, no. 1, Apr. 2018, p. 94. Pubmed, doi:10.1038/s41398-018-0142-6. Full Text

O’Hare, Justin, et al. “Recent Insights into Corticostriatal Circuit Mechanisms underlying Habits: Invited review for Current Opinions in Behavioral Sciences.Curr Opin Behav Sci, vol. 20, Apr. 2018, pp. 40–46. Pubmed, doi:10.1016/j.cobeha.2017.10.001. Full Text

Rodriguez, Erica, et al. “A craniofacial-specific monosynaptic circuit enables heightened affective pain.Nat Neurosci, vol. 20, no. 12, Dec. 2017, pp. 1734–43. Pubmed, doi:10.1038/s41593-017-0012-1. Full Text Open Access Copy

Toda, Koji, et al. “Nigrotectal Stimulation Stops Interval Timing in Mice.Current Biology : Cb, vol. 27, no. 24, Dec. 2017, pp. 3763-3770.e3. Epmc, doi:10.1016/j.cub.2017.11.003. Full Text

O’Hare, Justin K., et al. “Striatal fast-spiking interneurons selectively modulate circuit output and are required for habitual behavior.Elife, vol. 6, Sept. 2017. Pubmed, doi:10.7554/eLife.26231. Full Text

Yin, Henry H. “The Basal Ganglia in Action.The Neuroscientist : A Review Journal Bringing Neurobiology, Neurology and Psychiatry, vol. 23, no. 3, June 2017, pp. 299–313. Epmc, doi:10.1177/1073858416654115. Full Text

Wang, Xiaoming, et al. “Altered mGluR5-Homer scaffolds and corticostriatal connectivity in a Shank3 complete knockout model of autism.Nat Commun, vol. 7, May 2016, p. 11459. Pubmed, doi:10.1038/ncomms11459. Full Text Open Access Copy

Yin, H. H. “The role of opponent basal ganglia outputs in behavior.” Future Neurology, vol. 11, no. 2, May 2016, pp. 149–69. Scopus, doi:10.2217/fnl.16.6. Full Text

Rossi, Mark A., et al. “A GABAergic nigrotectal pathway for coordination of drinking behavior.Nat Neurosci, vol. 19, no. 5, May 2016, pp. 742–48. Pubmed, doi:10.1038/nn.4285. Full Text


Selected Grants

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

Training in Fundamental &Translational Neuroscience awarded by National Institutes of Health (Training Faculty). 2005 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