Byungkook Lim


Lab of Functional Anatomy of the Neural Circuitry

The basal ganglia and interconnected cortical, amygdalar and thalamic circuits subserve several crucial brain functions including reward-based learning, motor learning, motivated behavior and stress-related behaviors. Dysfunction in these circuits due to alterations of synaptic properties has been proposed to play a critical role in a variety of neuropsychiatric disorders including anxiety, addiction, autism spectrum disorder and major depressive disorder. However, the brain circuits relaying information from or to basal ganglia and their detailed synaptic organization have not been clearly delineated.

The main objective of research in our laboratory is to understand the role of the circuit-specific synaptic organization in basal ganglia in animal models of neuropsychiatric disease including drug addiction, feeding disorder, depressive disorder, and movement disorder. Given the circuit and synaptic complexity of the brain, characterizing specific neural circuitry responsible for behavioral changes has been challenging.

Figure 1

Dendtiric spines of amygdala neurons projecting to dopamine receptor 1-expressing medium spiny neurons (D1-MSNs) in nucleus accumbens

To address the anatomical and functional properties of basal ganglia circuitry, our laboratory applies and develops a variety of molecular strategies (ex. virus-mediated tracing and gene expression, transgenic mice expressing marker proteins in specific population of neurons) together with electrophysiological approaches. Furthermore, we applies cell-type specific or input-specific optogenetic manipulation in vitro and in vivo in pharmacological animal models of human disease as well as a battery of behavioral testing.

Future research in my own lab will continue with this strategy and set out to anatomically and functionally define neuronal identity and connectivity of brain circuits beyond basal ganglia and their interplay in mediating reward- and motivation-related behavior in the pathogenesis of neuropsychiatric and neuropathological disease.

Figrue 2

Double rabies virus-mediated retrograde tracing showing cortical neurons projecting to dorsal striatum (red) and neurons projecting to nucleus accumbens (green).


Image of Lim


Byungkook Lim received his Ph.D. in Molecular & Cell Biology from UC Berkeley with Dr. Mu-ming Poo and carried out his postdoctoral training with Dr. Robert Malenka in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at the Stanford University School of Medicine. Byungkook was a Davis Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow.