Keji Li

Picower Institute for Learning and Memory
43 Vassar St., 46-6227
Cambridge, MA 02139
Phone: (615) 818-7103


2015 Ph.D. Vanderbilt University (Psychology, Neuroscience focus)
2009 B.S. Fudan University (Biology, major)


2015-present Post-doctoral Fellow, Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
2009-2015 Graduate Student, Department of Psychology, Vanderbilt University


2016-2018 Foundation #3213
Role: Principle Investigator
Mentored Training Fellowship
Synaptic mechanisms and novel therapeutic strategies for Rett Syndrome
2009-2014 R01 EY01778-36 (Casagrande) NIH/NEI
Role: Graduate Student
Visual System Organization and Development

Honors and Awards

2006-2007 Fung Scholar Fellowship Victor and William Fung Foundation
2005-2008 People's scholarship, second class Ministry of Education, China
2013 Fine Science Tools travel award to SfN annual conference Fine Science Tools, Inc.

Research Statement

My general interest is in the mechanisms of interaction between cortical and subcortical feedback and feedforward pathways in the cortex, and how these interactions modify and regulate sensory information. Connections of the early visual system are relatively well-studied, making it the best place to start looking for a comprehensive understanding of how information is transmitted, transformed and regulated in the cortex, the type of computations carried out in the cortex and the underlying circuitry responsible. Similarly, the primary motor cortex has well studied connections and clear output fit for the study of learning. My graduate study was focused on the functional role of the visual pulvinar in regulating visual information processing in early visual cortical areas. My postdoctoral study is focused on the effect of a excitation/inhibition balance altering disease (Rett syndrome) on the network properties of V1 and learned neuron assemble formation in M1.


Experimental approaches and analytical methods that I have acquired and successfully applied include

  1. single electrode and multi-electrode array (linear and planer grid) extracellular recording
  2. light, confocal and electron microscopy in qualitative and quantitative examination of neuronal circuits, axon and synaptic morphology
  3. optical imaging of intrinsic signals to record cortical activity, locate specific cortical areas, and track developmental plasticity in cats, rodents and primates
  4. optogenetic and pharmacological manipulation of brain areas to examine functional connections
  5. neuron specific optogenetic stimulation
  6. multivariate graphical models
  7. variational autoencoder, and convolutional and residual/recurrent based classifier
  8. conventional and CNN based target detection/motion tracking
  9. Basic numerical modeling
  10. Designing and programming visual stimuli with OpenGL ES 2.0, and psychtoolbox/psychopy
  11. Designing animal behavior tasks, including hardware and software implementation on NIDAQ/Arduino/Raspberry Pi/STM32 based systems
  12. Programming in Python/numpy/sqlalchemy/numba, Matlab, C/C++/Boost/Qt, R, Rust, and Kotlin

Teaching Experience

2017 Lecturer MIT IAP 2017: Introduction to neuron population recording methods
Organize, prepare and give introductory lectures on recording methods including electrode/array recording, optical imaging and single/two photon imaging methods, with the help from fellow postdoc Dr. Murat Yildirim.
2012 Guest Lecturer BSCI 258 Vertebrate Physiology, Vanderbilt University with Dr. Clint Carter
Give lectures on central nervous system, write and grade test questions based on these lectures


Journal Articles