Computational Neuroethology Lab (Under construction )

Computational Neuroethology Lab (Under construction )

Welcome to the Liu Lab!

-Our Research-

Neural Coding of Vocal Categories

We are now interested in how auditory neural circuits give rise to sensitivity, and how sensitivity to multiple features can be used to build a neural representation of vocal categories that are tolerant to inherent acoustic variability.

Mechanisms of Social Sound Learning

We discovered the first electrophysiological signs of sensory plasticity within the auditory system for these calls, encouraging the adoption of this model system to study mechanisms of sensory plasticity in more natural communication contexts. A key question we are now interested in concerns whether this plasticity reflects general associative learning as a cognitive component of motherhood, or may instead be a reflection of an inherent, species-specific trajectory of physiological changes unfolding over the course of motherhood. 

Neural Circuitry of Social Bonding

We demonstrated that a medial prefrontal cortex-to-nucleus accumbens circuit is modulated during affiliative behaviors in a way that is predictive of how quickly voles begin to express their pair bond, and that stimulating this circuit can causally bias the emergence of the bond. We are now investigating how oxytocin mediates signaling in the accumbens and other limbic regions in ways that are critical to bond formation and maintenance.

Quantifying Social Communication in Rodents

To expand our ability to quantify rodent social behavior more automatically in a less biased fashion, we are collaborating with Dr. Gordon Berman to apply machine learning algorithms and quantitative behavioral mapping techniques.