Carnegie Mellon University

Kate Hong

Assistant Professor

205 Mellon Institute
Department of Biological Sciences
Carnegie Mellon University
4400 Fifth Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213


Lab Website

Kate Hong


Postdoctoral Fellow, Columbia University 
Postdoctoral Fellow, Boston Children's Hospital
Ph.D., Harvard University
Sc.B., Brown University


One of the most important functions of the brain is its ability to sense and rapidly respond to ongoing stimuli in the environment. Sensory information is distributed throughout multiple interconnected areas of the brain, but the precise identity of these circuits, and how they orchestrate sensory perception remain unknown. In order to understand even the simplest forms of sensory-guided behaviors, it is imperative to elucidate the mechanisms by which multiple, connected areas cooperate to mediate behavior.

The main questions that motivate our research are:
(i) How does the cortex modulate sensory information in downstream subcortical regions during sensation that guides behavioral decisions?
(ii) What are the mechanisms by which highly interconnected brain regions are affected by, and recover from, cortical injury or stroke?

Our research program combines animal behavior, high-speed imaging, motion tracking, in vivo electrophysiology, and optogenetic methods, using the mouse whisker system as a model. We aim to determine how cortical and subcortical activity cooperate to mediate sensory-motor transformations in parallel, providing a foundation for understanding behavioral deficits and recovery mechanisms associated with cortical injury.


Rodgers CC, Nogueira R, Pil BC, Greeman EA, Park JM, Hong YK, Fusi S, Bruno RM. Sensorimotor strategies and neuronal representations for shape discrimination. Neuron. 2021 Jul 21;109(14):2308-2325.e10. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2021.05.019. Epub 2021 Jun 15. PMID: 34133944

Warren RA, Zhang Q, Hoffman JR, Li EY, Hong YK, Bruno RM, Sawtell NB. A rapid whisker-based decision underlying skilled locomotion in mice. Elife. 2021 Jan 11;10:e63596. doi: 10.7554/eLife.63596. PMID: 33428566

Hong YK, Burr EF, Sanes JR and Chen C (2019). Heterogeneity of retinogeniculate axons. European Journal of Neuroscience 49: 948-956

Hong YK, Lacefield CO, Rodgers CC, Bruno RM (2018) Sensation, movement, and learning in the absence of primary sensory cortex. Nature 561: 542-546

Krishnaswamy A, Yamagata M, Duan X, Hong YK and Sanes JR (2015). Sidekick 2 directs formation of a retinal circuit that detects differential motion. Nature 524: 466-70

Hong YK, Park S, Litvina EY, Morales J, Sanes JR and Chen C (2014). Refinement of the Retinogeniculate Synapse by Bouton Clustering. Neuron 84: 332-339

Noutel J, Hong YK, Leu B, Kang E and Chen C (2011). Experience-dependent retinogeniculate synapse remodeling is abnormal in MeCP2-deficient mice. Neuron 70: 35-42

Hong YK and Chen C (2011). Wiring and rewiring of the retinogeniculate synapse. Current Opinion in Neurobiology21:228-37; Review

Hong YK, Kim IJ and Sanes JR (2011). Stereotyped axonal arbors of retinal ganglion cell subsets in the mouse superior colliculus. Journal of Comparative Neurology 519: 1691-711

Hong YK and Yamagata M (2009). Molecular Basis of Lamina-specific Synaptic Connections in the Retina: Sidekick Immunoglobulin Superfamily Molecules. In Hortsch M, and Umemori H, The Sticky Synapse. Springer, New York, NY. Book Chapter. Invited publication.

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