Jennifer Hoy

Associate Professor
Headshot of Jennifer Hoy standing on a lookout over Lake Tahoe in winter.


Our work seeks to identify the neural circuit basis of prey-capture behavior in the mouse as part of the broader goal of understanding how vision guides action in the mammalian brain. By identifying and studying the circuits required for this natural behavior, we aim to address our long-term goal to determine how molecular-developmental processes shape sensory system function and behavior throughout life. In addition, the lab also takes a comparative approach in studying this ubiquitous behavior, contrasting our findings with studies of visually-guided foraging behaviors and visual search in other species. Ultimately this will allow us to identify highly conserved neurodevelopmental mechanisms that underlie basic visual system function from mice to humans.

In pursuit of our goals, we employ diverse techniques. Molecular biology, extracellular electrophysiology, optogenetics, chemogenetics, and quantitative behavior are used routinely to interrogate visual system structure and function in the mouse and identify the mechanisms that underlie visual perception.

While this work will most imminently enhance our understanding of how our visual system translates stimulus into action, it may also ultimately contribute to our understanding of selective attention, visual search behaviors, decision-making, and, how and when organisms assign emotional salience to environmental stimuli. Understanding these processes has significant implications for our ability to address pervasive neurodevelopmental disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), attention deficit and hyperactive disorder (ADHD), addiction and anxiety.


  • B.S. Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of Arizona
  • Ph.D. Biology, University of Oregon


  • Hoy JL, Yavorska I, Wehr M, Niell CM. "Vision Drives Accurate Approach Behavior
    during Prey Capture in Laboratory Mice". Curr Biol. 2016 Nov 21;26(22):3046-3052.
    doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2016.09.009. Epub 2016 Oct 20. PubMed PMID: 27773567; PubMed
    Central PMCID: PMC5121011.
  • Hoy JL, Niell CM. "Layer-specific refinement of visual cortex function after
    eye-opening in the awake mouse". J Neurosci. 2015 Feb 25;35(8):3370-83. doi:
    10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3174-14.2015. PubMed PMID: 25716837; PubMed Central PMCID:
  • Lee AM, Hoy JL, Bonci A, Wilbrecht L, Stryker MP, Niell CM. "Identification of
    a brainstem circuit regulating visual cortical state in parallel with locomotion".
    Neuron. 2014 Jul 16;83(2):455-466. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2014.06.031. PubMed
    PMID: 25033185; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4151326.
  • Hoy JL, Haeger PA, Constable JR, Arias RJ, McCallum R, Kyweriga M, Davis L,
    Schnell E, Wehr M, Castillo PE, Washbourne P. "Neuroligin1 drives synaptic and
    behavioral maturation through intracellular interactions". J Neurosci. 2013 May
    29;33(22):9364-84. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4660-12.2013. PubMed PMID: 23719805;
    PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3710743.
  • Hoy JL, Constable JR, Vicini S, Fu Z, Washbourne P. "SynCAM1 recruits NMDA
    receptors via protein 4.1B". Mol Cell Neurosci. 2009 Dec;42(4):466-83. doi:
    10.1016/j.mcn.2009.09.010. Epub 2009 Sep 29. PubMed PMID: 19796685; PubMed
    Central PMCID: PMC2784006.