College of Basic Medical Sciences




Tel: 63846590-778022

Research Field: interpretation of brain cognitive principles a and clinical translational research

Personal Introduction

  • My scientific career began at the Institute of Neuroscience, Chinese Academy of Sciences. As a Ph.D. student in Muming Poo’s lab, I explored the physiological function of miniature excitatory synaptic events (mEPSCs) and found a new mechanism for local heterosynaptic homeostatic regulation between excitatory and inhibitory synapses.

  • After extensive Ph.D. training in electrophysiology, I joined Dr. Yang Dan’s lab at UC Berkeley to pursue studies of neural circuits. I focused on the neuronal mechanisms underlying top-down attention modulation, which is a powerful cognitive process allowing selectively processing behaviorally relevant information and filtering out irrelevant stimuli. I have identified mouse cingulate cortex (Cg) as an anatomical and functional analogue of primate Frontal Eye Field, which is important in selective attention, and further dissected the underlying microcircuits of center-surround attention modulation with genetic and viral tools. Using viral tools for anterograde and retrograde tracing, we then delineated the brain networks organized by long-range axonal projections to and from the frontal cortex.

  • I joined Shanghai Jiao Tong University in 2016. Here, using RV-assisted tracing and optogenetics-assisted recording, we identified the whole-brain inputs to cortical interneurons in the visual network. Computation modeling based on innervation weights for interneurons generated testable prediction of the hierarchical position of many brain areas, thus revealing the direction of information flow in the visual network. In our ongoing projects, we train mice with selective visual attention tasks and investigate the role of various types of neurons in frontal cortices.

  • My long-term goal is to understand the neural mechanisms of attention modulation at the level of the individual neuron and neural circuitry, and to determine how these mechanisms affect behavior.

Academic History

  • 2016-present Principal Investigator, Department of Anatomy and Physiology, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, Shanghai, China.

  • 2010-2016 Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley. Adviser, Yang Dan.

  • 2004-2010 Ph.D. Neurobiology, Institute of Neuroscience, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai, China. Adviser, Mu-Ming Poo.

  • 2000-2004 B.S. Bioscience, Department of Bioscience, Nanjing University, China.

Scientific Research Projects

  • National Natural Science Foundation of China (31871051, 2019-2022):3D anatomic connectome and functional connectome for cortical neurons in visual selective-attention related areas

  • National Natural Science Foundation of China(32170993, 2022-2025):Integration of hierarchical cortical and thalamic inputs in the primary visual cortex.

  • National Science and Technology Innovation 2030 Major Program (2021ZD0202804, 2022-2026): Circuit mechanisms of emotional regulation of attention and memory

  • National Science and Technology Innovation 2030 Major Program (2021ZD0203704, 2022-2026): Regulation of decision making by neuromodulators


  • Ma, G. et al. Hierarchy in sensory processing reflected by innervation balance on cortical interneurons. Science advances 7, doi:10.1126/sciadv.abf5676 (2021).

  • Duan, C. A. et al. A cortico-collicular pathway for motor planning in a memory-dependent perceptual decision task. Nature communications 12, 2727, doi:10.1038/s41467-021-22547-9 (2021).

  • Peng, W. et al. Regulation of sleep homeostasis mediator adenosine by basal forebrain glutamatergic neurons. Science 369, doi:10.1126/science.abb0556 (2020).

  • Hu, F. et al. Prefrontal Corticotectal Neurons Enhance Visual Processing through the Superior Colliculus and Pulvinar Thalamus. Neuron 104, 1141-1152 e1144, doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2019.09.019 (2019).

  • Yu, Z. et al. The acid-sensing ion channel ASIC1a mediates striatal synapse remodeling and procedural motor learning. Science signaling 11, doi:10.1126/scisignal.aar4481 (2018).

  • Wang, Q. et al. Fear extinction requires ASIC1a-dependent regulation of hippocampal-prefrontal correlates. Science advances 4, eaau3075, doi:10.1126/sciadv.aau3075 (2018).

  • Sun, F. et al. A Genetically Encoded Fluorescent Sensor Enables Rapid and Specific Detection of Dopamine in Flies, Fish, and Mice. Cell 174, 481-496 e419, doi:10.1016/j.cell.2018.06.042 (2018).

  • Zhang, S. et al. Organization of long-range inputs and outputs of frontal cortex for top-down control. Nature neuroscience 19, 1733-1742, doi:10.1038/nn.4417 (2016).

  • Do, J. P. et al. Cell type-specific long-range connections of basal forebrain circuit. eLife 5, doi:10.7554/eLife.13214 (2016).

  • Xu, M. et al. Basal forebrain circuit for sleep-wake control. Nature neuroscience 18, 1641-1647, doi:10.1038/nn.4143 (2015).

  • Zhang, S. et al. Selective attention. Long-range and local circuits for top-down modulation of visual cortex processing. Science 345, 660-665, doi:10.1126/science.1254126 (2014).

  • Xu, M., Zhang, S. Y., Dan, Y. & Poo, M. M. Representation of interval timing by temporally scalable firing patterns in rat prefrontal cortex. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 111, 480-485, doi:10.1073/pnas.1321314111 (2014).

  • Bochner, D. N. et al. Blocking PirB up-regulates spines and functional synapses to unlock visual cortical plasticity and facilitate recovery from amblyopia. Science translational medicine 6, 258ra140, doi:10.1126/scitranslmed.3010157 (2014).

  • Lee, S. H. et al. Activation of specific interneurons improves V1 feature selectivity and visual perception. Nature 488, 379-383, doi:10.1038/nature11312 (2012).

  • Zhang, S. Y., Xu, M., Miao, Q. L., Poo, M. M. & Zhang, X. H. Endocannabinoid-dependent homeostatic regulation of inhibitory synapses by miniature excitatory synaptic activities. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience 29, 13222-13231, doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1710-09.2009 (2009).