Florida State University

Dr. Wen Li is currently accepting new graduate students.


Dr. Wen Li

Associate Professor of Psychology & Neuroscience

PDB B342


Our goal is to characterize sensory-cortex-based processing of threat information and to understand neural mechanisms underpinning the generation and degeneration of threat codes in the sensory cortex. We are also interested in how these processes contribute to anxiety pathology. Our research is performed primarily on the human level.
Current Research
We study emotion processing and emotional disorders taking a neurosensory perspective. We propose that sensory cortex stores threat codes and thereby supports active encoding of threat cues, initiating defensive responses directly or interactively with the limbic system. In anxious individuals, sensory cortical encoding of threat could be exaggerated, which combined with limbic hyperreactivity to threat and inadequate prefrontal inhibition thereof, can result in a vicious cycle, driving the genesis and maintenance of pathological anxiety. Using a combination of techniques (fMRI, EEG/MEG, psychophysiology and psychophysics), our research proceeds in two directions: (1) establishing a neurosensory mechanism of threat encoding (and anxiety), and (2) developing perceptual training protocols as a novel treatment, by rewriting or erasing threat codes in the sensory cortex of anxious individuals.
Recent Publications
Clancy K, Ding M, Bernat E, Schmidt NB, Li W, Restless 'rest': intrinsic sensory hyperactivity and disinhibition in post-traumatic stress disorder, Brain, 2017 PubMed
You Y, Li W, Parallel processing of general and specific threat during early stages of perception, Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci, 2016 PubMed
Forscher EC, Zheng Y, Ke Z, Folstein J, Li W, Decomposing fear perception: A combination of psychophysics and neurometric modeling of fear perception, Neuropsychologia, 2016 PubMed
Novak LR, Gitelman DR, Schuyler B, Li W, Olfactory-visual integration facilitates perception of subthreshold negative emotion, Neuropsychologia, 2015 PubMed
Mao X, You Y, Li W, Guo C, Emotion impairs extrinsic source memory--An ERP study, Biol Psychol, 2015 PubMed
Li W, Learning to smell danger: acquired associative representation of threat in the olfactory cortex, Front Behav Neurosci, 2014 PubMed
Krusemark EA, Novak LR, Gitelman DR, Li W, When the sense of smell meets emotion: anxiety-state-dependent olfactory processing and neural circuitry adaptation, J Neurosci, 2013 PubMed
Krusemark EA, Li W, From early sensory specialization to later perceptual generalization: dynamic temporal progression in perceiving individual threats, J Neurosci, 2013 PubMed
Krusemark EA, Li W, Enhanced Olfactory Sensory Perception of Threat in Anxiety: An Event-Related fMRI Study, Chemosens Percept, 2012 PubMed
Forscher EC, Li W, Hemispheric asymmetry and visuo-olfactory integration in perceiving subthreshold (micro) fearful expressions, J Neurosci, 2012 PubMed
Krusemark EA, Li W, Do all threats work the same way? Divergent effects of fear and disgust on sensory perception and attention, J Neurosci, 2011 PubMed
Li W, Howard JD, Gottfried JA, Disruption of odour quality coding in piriform cortex mediates olfactory deficits in Alzheimer's disease, Brain, 2010 PubMed
Li W, Lopez L, Osher J, Howard JD, Parrish TB, Gottfried JA, Right orbitofrontal cortex mediates conscious olfactory perception, Psychol Sci, 2010 PubMed
Li W, Howard JD, Parrish TB, Gottfried JA, Aversive learning enhances perceptual and cortical discrimination of indiscriminable odor cues, Science, 2008 PubMed

All Publications PubMed

Lab Website

Training Grant Opportunities

Neuro Grads and Postdocs

Jessica Simon, Graduate Student

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