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

Yin, H. H. “Neuroadaptations leading to alcohol addiction and dependence.Alcohol Research and Health, vol. 31, no. 4, 2009, pp. 340–44.

Yin, Henry H., et al. “Reward-guided learning beyond dopamine in the nucleus accumbens: the integrative functions of cortico-basal ganglia networks.The European Journal of Neuroscience, vol. 28, no. 8, Oct. 2008, pp. 1437–48. Epmc, doi:10.1111/j.1460-9568.2008.06422.x. Full Text

Yin, H. “The elephantine shape of addiction.” Behavioral and Brain Sciences, vol. 31, no. 4, Aug. 2008, p. 461. Scopus, doi:10.1017/S0140525X08004974. Full Text

Yin, Henry H. “From actions to habits: neuroadaptations leading to dependence.Alcohol Research & Health : The Journal of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, vol. 31, no. 4, Jan. 2008, pp. 340–44.

Yin, Henry H., et al. “Neurotensin reduces glutamatergic transmission in the dorsolateral striatum via retrograde endocannabinoid signaling.Neuropharmacology, vol. 54, no. 1, Jan. 2008, pp. 79–86. Epmc, doi:10.1016/j.neuropharm.2007.06.004. Full Text

Hilário, M. R. F., et al. “Endocannabinoid signaling is critical for habit formation.” Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience, vol. 1, no. NOV, Nov. 2007. Scopus, doi:10.3389/neuro.07.006.2007. Full Text

Yin, Henry H., et al. “Ethanol reverses the direction of long-term synaptic plasticity in the dorsomedial striatum.The European Journal of Neuroscience, vol. 25, no. 11, June 2007, pp. 3226–32. Epmc, doi:10.1111/j.1460-9568.2007.05606.x. Full Text

Hilário, M. R. F., et al. “Endocannabinoid signaling is critical for habit formation.” Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience, vol. 1, no. NOV, 2007. Scival, doi:10.3389/neuro.07/006.2007. Full Text

Yin, Henry H., et al. “The role of protein synthesis in striatal long-term depression.The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience, vol. 26, no. 46, Nov. 2006, pp. 11811–20. Epmc, doi:10.1523/jneurosci.3196-06.2006. Full Text

Dang, Mai T., et al. “Disrupted motor learning and long-term synaptic plasticity in mice lacking NMDAR1 in the striatum.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 103, no. 41, Oct. 2006, pp. 15254–59. Epmc, doi:10.1073/pnas.0601758103. Full Text