• Title Assistant Professor of Biology
  • Education PhD. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Web Address http://www.chen-lab.org
  • Phone 617-353-1734
  • Area of Interest Large-scale neuronal networks, sensorimotor integration, decision making, neurodevelopment, non-linear microscopy
  • CV

Current Research

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, focusing on the following topics:

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 Across Transcriptional States: We are investigating how genes and changes in expression define the organization and function of long-range cortical circuits. Gaining a handle on how gene programs guide circuit function will help us understand the role they serve during behavior.

Selected Publications

  • Condylis C, Lowet E, Ni J, Bistrong K, Ouellette T, Josephs N, Chen JL (2020) Context dependent sensory processing across primary and secondary somatosensory cortex. Neuron 106 (3): 515-525.e5.
  • Clough M, Chen JL (2019) Cellular resolution imaging of neuronal activity across space and time in the mammalian brain. Curr Opin Biomed Eng. 12: 95-101.
  • Ni J, Chen JL (2017) Long-range cortical dynamics: a perspective from the mouse sensorimotor whisker system. Eur J Neurosci. 46 (8): 2315-2324.
  • Courses Taught:

    • BI755/AN810/NE700 Cellular and Systems Neuroscience

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