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

Bartholomew, Ryan A., et al. “Striatonigral control of movement velocity in mice.The European Journal of Neuroscience, vol. 43, no. 8, Apr. 2016, pp. 1097–110. Epmc, doi:10.1111/ejn.13187. Full Text

O’Hare, Justin K., et al. “Pathway-Specific Striatal Substrates for Habitual Behavior.Neuron, vol. 89, no. 3, Feb. 2016, pp. 472–79. Pubmed, doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2015.12.032. Full Text

Berglund, Ken, et al. “Luminopsins integrate opto- and chemogenetics by using physical and biological light sources for opsin activation.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 113, no. 3, Jan. 2016, pp. E358–67. Epmc, doi:10.1073/pnas.1510899113. Full Text

Koh, Sehwon, et al. “Human Umbilical Tissue-Derived Cells Promote Synapse Formation and Neurite Outgrowth via Thrombospondin Family Proteins.J Neurosci, vol. 35, no. 47, Nov. 2015, pp. 15649–65. Pubmed, doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1364-15.2015. Full Text

Kim, Il Hwan, et al. “Spine pruning drives antipsychotic-sensitive locomotion via circuit control of striatal dopamine.Nat Neurosci, vol. 18, no. 6, June 2015, pp. 883–91. Pubmed, doi:10.1038/nn.4015. Full Text

Barter, J. W., et al. “Beyond reward prediction errors: The role of dopamine in movement kinematics.” Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience, vol. 9, no. MAY, May 2015. Scopus, doi:10.3389/fnint.2015.00039. Full Text

Rossi, M. A., and H. H. Yin. “Elevated dopamine alters consummatory pattern generation and increases behavioral variability during learning.” Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience, vol. 9, no. MAY, May 2015. Scopus, doi:10.3389/fnint.2015.00037. Full Text

Rossi, Mark A., et al. “Spotlight on movement disorders: What optogenetics has to offer.Mov Disord, vol. 30, no. 5, Apr. 2015, pp. 624–31. Pubmed, doi:10.1002/mds.26184. Full Text

Barter, Joseph W., et al. “Basal ganglia outputs map instantaneous position coordinates during behavior.The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience, vol. 35, no. 6, Feb. 2015, pp. 2703–16. Epmc, doi:10.1523/jneurosci.3245-14.2015. Full Text

Jenkins, Paul M., et al. “Giant ankyrin-G: a critical innovation in vertebrate evolution of fast and integrated neuronal signaling.Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, vol. 112, no. 4, Jan. 2015, pp. 957–64. Pubmed, doi:10.1073/pnas.1416544112. Full Text