Huizhong W. Tao

Associate Professor
Cell & Neurobiology
Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute
Keck School of Medicine of USC
PIBBS Mentor

Research Topics

  • Cellular neurobiology
  • developmental neurobiology
  • Neurogenetics, physiology
  • vision research

Research Images

Research Overview

We are interested in the architecture of visual cortical circuits. To dissect the circuits that consist of excitatory and inhibitory neurons, we will apply in vivo electrophysiology, in particular two-photon imaging guided recording, to target different types of neurons in rodent visual cortex. From the response properties of individual neurons and the pattern of synaptic inputs to these neurons, we will be able to deduce the connectivity rules governing the construction of cortical circuits. In addition, we will gain insights into how diverse visual processing functions are achieved by the cortical circuits.

We are also interested in how functional visual circuits are established during development. The development of visual system not only depends on molecular and genetic programs, but also can be profoundly influenced by the pattern of neural activities along the visual pathways. Early synaptic connections in the developing brain can undergo substantial remodeling in response to patterned electrical activity of neurons. We will examine how neural activity of various patterns leads to modulations of synaptic connections and shapes the formation of visual circuits. Such studies will provide insights into how abnormal visual experience in early life, such as in the condition of strabismus and visual deprivation, can lead to abnormal wiring in the brain, and how we can correct it. Using animal models such as zebrafish and mouse where genetic manipulation of gene functions is available, we will also address how the development of visual circuits is altered under disease conditions.