Jerry Chen, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, (Biology, BME)

Assistant Professor, (Biology, BME)

  • Primary Appointment Assistant Professor, Biology
  • Education Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    B.A., University of California, Berkeley
  • Additional Affiliations Assistant Professor, Biomedical Engineering
  • Areas of Interest Investigating Long-Range Neocortical Networks: A longstanding goal in neuroscience is to achieve a complete understanding of the central nervous system, from the brain as a whole all the way down to individual neurons and synapses. A fundamental challenge in achieving this goal is bridging knowledge gaps impeded by the difficulty in integrating experimental measurements across different scales. Our lab studies the relationship between local circuits and long-range networks in the mammalian neocortex. We take an integrative approach by combining large-scale in vivo imaging technology with molecular and genetic tools in the awake-behaving animal.
  • Research Areas Principles of Long-Range Cortical Communication: We are investigating how behavior-relevant information is processed both locally and globally throughout the neocortex. Using the mouse tactile whisker sensorimotor system as a model for studying long-range cortical communication during sensory processing and decision making, we seek to understand the following questions:

    – What are the circuits underlying long-range cortical communication?

    – What are the physiological mechanisms that subserve such operations?

    – What roles do these processes serve during behavior?

    Technologies for Large-Scale Imaging of Neuronal Populations: We recently developed a multi-area two-photon microscope that enables simultaneous functional imaging with cellular resolution across cortical areas. We seek to expand on such methods to enable comprehensive monitoring of neuronal activity across the entire cortex.

    Long-Range Cortical Circuits During Development: We are investigating how genes and development define the organization and function of long-range cortical circuits. Gaining a handle on how these circuits form will help us understand the role they serve during behavior.


Selected Publications

Chen JL*, Voigt F*, Javadzadeh M, Kruppel R, Helmchen F. Long-range population dynamics of anatomically defined neocortical networks.  eLife. 2016 May 24;5. pii: e14679. *Equal contribution (

Helmchen F, Chen JL. Imaging the cortical representation of active sensing in the vibrissa system. Sensorimotor Integration in the Whisker System. Springer, 2015:109-128.

Chen JL, Margolis DJ, Stankov A, Sumanovski LT, Schneider BL, Helmchen F. Pathway-specific reorganization of projection neurons in somatosensory cortex during learning. Nat Neurosci. 2015 Aug;18(8):1101-1108. (PDF)

Chen JL*, Pfaffli O*, Voigt F, Margolis DJ, Helmchen F. Online correction of licking-induced brain motion during two-photon imaging with a tunable lens. J Physiol. 2013 Oct 1;591(19):4689-4698. *Equal contribution (PDF)

Chen JL, Andermann ML, Keck T, Xu NL, Ziv Y. Imaging neuronal populations in behaving rodents: paradigms for studying neural circuits underlying behavior in the mammalian cortex. J Neurosci. 2013 Nov 6;33(45):17631-40. (PDF)

Chen JL, Carta S, Soldado-Magraner J, Schneider BL, Helmchen F. Behaviour-dependent recruitment of long-range projection neurons in somatosensory cortex. Nature. 2013 Jul 18;499(7458):336-380. (PDF)

Chen JL, Villa KL, Cha JW, So PT, Kubota Y, Nedivi E. Clustered inhibitory synapse and dendritic spine dynamics in the adult cortex. Neuron. 2012 Apr 26;74(2):361-73.

Chen JL, Lin WC, Cha JW, So PT, Kubota Y, Nedivi E. Structural basis for the role of inhibition in facilitating adult brain plasticity. Nat Neurosci. 2011 May;14(5):587-94.


Affiliation: Primary & Affiliated Faculty (BME)