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Billy Lau

Contact Info

Billy You Bun Lau,

Assistant Professor, Psychology and BCMB

Office: Mossman 410

Lab: Mossman 441A


Ph.D., The University of Texas at Austin

Research Statement

I am interested in understanding the neural mechanisms underlying typical behaviors, and how deficits in such mechanisms lead to neuropsychiatric disorders. Thus far, I have used an integrative molecular, cellular, electrophysiological and behavioral approach to identify mechanisms mediating natural behaviors in healthy animals as well as in disease animal models.

My lab focuses on identifying the cellular and electrophysiological mechanisms mediating experience-dependent brain plasticity in mice. We use cellular tools, in vivo and ex vivo electrophysiological recordings, electroencephalogram recordings, optogenetic and chemogenetic tools, and RNAi technology to understand brain functions in ethologically-relevant behaviors as well as behavioral paradigms that aim to test specific sensory modality, of both healthy mice and mouse models of neuropsychiatric disorders.

My long-term research vision is to focus on ethologically-relevant models and behavioral neuroscience approaches to root systems and cellular neuroscience knowledge for tackling long-standing mechanistic questions about animal behavior. I am particularly interested in establishing non-traditional models. Modern neuroscience has narrowed its focus on a handful of animal models, with a pursuit towards medical neuroscience. I believe we can further our knowledge by using diverse animal models which have all solved the social cognition problem in their own native environments.

Selected Publications

1. Emery BA*, Everett M*, Logan Reid Dunn, Lau BYB, Krishnan K. CDKL5 deficiency results in atypical subregion-specific expression of perineuronal nets in the mouse primary visual cortex. *Authors contributed equally. Manuscript in revision.

2. Mykins M*, Layo-Carris D*, Dunn L*, Skinner DW, McBryar AH, Perez S, Shultz TR, Willems A, Lau BYB, Hong T, Krishnan K. Wild-type MECP2 expression coincides with age-dependent sensory phenotypes in a female mouse model for Rett syndrome. Journal of Neuroscience Research. 2023 April. *Authors contributed equally.

3. Grieb ZA, Ford EG, Yagan M, Lau BYB, Manfredsson FP, Krishnan K, Lonstein JS. Oxytocin receptors in the midbrain dorsal raphe are essential for postpartum maternal social and affective behaviors. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2021 September; 131.

4. Stevenson P*, Casenhiser DM*, Lau BYB, Krishnan K. Systematic analysis of goal-related movement sequences during maternal behavior in a female mouse model for Rett syndrome. European Journal of Neuroscience. 2021 May. doi: 10.1111/ejn.15327. *Authors contributed equally.

5. Lau BYB, Layo DE, Emery B, Everett M, Kumar A, Stevenson P, Reynolds KG, Cherosky A, Bowyer SAH, Roth S, Fisher D, McCord RP and Krishnan K. Lateralized expression of cortical perineuronal nets during maternal experience is dependent on MECP2. eNeuro. 2020 May-June; 7(3). DOI:

6. Lau BYB, Krishnan K Huang ZJ and Shea SD. Maternal experience-dependent cortical plasticity in mice is circuit- and stimulus-specific and requires MECP2. Journal of Neuroscience. 2020 February; 40(7), 1514-26.

7. Krishnan K*, Lau BYB*, Ewall G, Huang ZJ and Shea SD. MECP2 regulates cortical plasticity underlying a learned behavior in adult female mice. Nature Communication. 2017 January; 8:14077. *Authors contributed equally.

8. Lau BYB, Fogerson SM, Walsh RB and Morgan JR. Cyclic AMP promotes axon regeneration, lesion repair and neuronal survival in lampreys after spinal cord injury. Experimental Neurology. 2013 December; 250: 31-42.

9. Lau BYB, Foldes AE, Alieva NO, Oliphint PA, Busch DJ and Morgan JR. Increased synapsin expression and neurite sprouting in lamprey brain after spinal cord injury. Experimental Neurology. 2011 April; 228(2):283-293.

10. Mathur P, Lau BYB and Guo S. Conditioned place preference in zebrafish. Nature Protocols. 2011 March; 6(3):338-345.

11. Lau BYB, Mathur P, Gould GG, Guo S. Identification of a brain center whose activity discriminates a choice behavior in zebrafish. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S.A. 2011 February; 108(6):2581-2586.

12. Lau B, Bretaud S, Huang Y, Lin E, Guo S. Dissociation of food and opiate preference by a genetic mutation in zebrafish. Genes, Brain, and Behavior. 2006 October; 5(7):497-505.

13. Komuves LG, Shen WF, Kwong A, Stelnicki E, Rozenfeld S, Oda Y, Blink A, Krishnan K, Lau B, Mauro T, Largman C. Changes in HOXB6 homeodomain protein structure and localization during human epidermal development and differentiation. Developmental Dynamics. 2000 August; 218(4):636-647.

Full bibliography: