Welcome to the Bo Li Lab

  • The Li Lab 2020

  • The Li Lab

  • Neurons in the central amygdala

  • Harbor View

  • Jones in Summer

  • CSHL in the Fall

  • Jones in Snow

  • Charles Darvin in snow

  • Jones in snow

About the lab

We study the synaptic and circuit mechanisms underlying behavior. We use in vitro and in vivo electrophysiological, imaging, optogenetic, and chemogenetic techniques combined with mouse genetic and molecular methods to probe and manipulate specific neural circuits, and to determine the role of these circuits in adaptive behaviors or maladaptive behaviors related to mental disorders.


Danielle van de Lisdonk joined the lab for her PhD Study. Welcome Danielle!

Monday, November 15, 2021


NIH BRAIN Initiative invests $9.7 million in CSHL scientists

Tuesday, Dec 29, 2020
The National Institute of Health (NIH) Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies® (BRAIN) Initiative awarded a total of $9.7 million in new grants to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) professors, a senior fellow, and a visiting scientist. Started in 2013, the BRAIN Initiative funds innovative neuroscience projects. The goal is to better treat, prevent, and cure neurological disorders.

So much data, too little time CSHL Professor Partha Mitra and his team are developing new artificial intelligence tools to analyze a broad range of brain datasets and types. These new computational resources will help neuroscientists analyze an overwhelming amount of brain imaging and physiological data that already exist, plus the even larger datasets being generated in labs around the world  Read More

How does the brain process fear?

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

When a frightful creature startles you, your brain may activate its fear-processing circuitry, sending your heart racing to help you escape the threat. It’s also the job of the brain’s fear-processing circuits to help you learn from experience to recognize which situations are truly dangerous and to respond appropriately—so if the scare comes from a costumed goblin, you’ll probably recover quickly.

In more dire circumstances, however, the brain’s fear response can be critical for survival. “Being able to fear is the ability to sense the danger and is the driving force to figure out a way to escape or fight back,” said Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Professor Bo Li.  Read More

How the brain balances pleasure and pain

Tuesday, Dec 31, 2019
As our brains take in information about the world and use it to steer our actions, two key principles guide our choices: seek pleasure and avoid pain. Researchers at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) have zeroed in on an information-processing hub in the brains of mice to discover how neurons there divide the labor to handle these opposing behavioral motivations. Their work, reported December 31, 2019 in the journal Neuron, reveals that different classes of neurons control positive and negative motivation, sending opposing signals along a shared motivation-processing brain circuit. Ultimately, the balance of activity between these two groups of cells may determine whether a person acts to seek out pleasurable experiences or avoid negative ones, says CSHL Professor Bo Li, who led the study. Read More

Interview with a neuroscientist

Friday, May 31, 2019
Comprised of a M.C. Escher-esque network of pathways, the brain is a maze of chaotic proportions. In its full-functioning glory, the brain helps us move, think, dream, and create. It’s a beautiful marvel of evolution that coordinates and translates messages from cells into emotions, memories, and actions. Read More

How the Brain Hears and Fears

Wednesday, Dec 5 2018

How is it that a sound can send a chill down your spine? By observing individual brain cells of mice, scientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) are understanding how a sound can incite fear.

Investigator Bo Li focuses on a part of the mouse brain called the amygdala where sights, sounds, and other stimuli take on positive or negative associations through experience. The continuous process of learning and unlearning that occurs in the amygdala appears impaired in people with anxiety disorders or major depression. Understanding brain cell, or neuron activity in the amygdala could result in better treatments. Read More