The Lois lab is interested in several research topics described below.



Understanding the computations that take place in brain circuits requires identifying how neurons in those circuits are connected to one another. We have designed a new genetic strategy to identify the wiring diagram of brain circuits based on transneuronal activation of transcription. This system will allow us not only to identify the connections between neurons, but also to genetically modify the physiological properties of circuits of connected neurons. We anticipate that this research will provide fundamental insights to understand how neuronal activity in brain circuits gives rise to behavior.


The brain of adult vertebrates harbors a population of neuronal stem cells that continues to proliferate throughout the life of the animal, and whose progeny migrate through the brain, differentiate into neurons, and establish synaptic contacts with other neurons in the circuit. We are interested in understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms that control the integration of these neurons into neuronal circuits.


Song is a complex behavior that some birds use to communicate with each other. In the bird brain there are specialized circuits dedicated to the production and perception of song. We are investigating how these song-specific circuits are assembled, and how their activity gives rise to song. To study these questions, our laboratory has developed several techniques that allow us to genetically modify the brain of songbirds. We are generating transgenic songbirds to manipulate key genes involved in the assembly of circuits involved in vocal learning behavior. In addition, we are investigating the cellular mechanisms that maintain stability of behavior over long periods of time.