William DeBello, Ph.D.

Headshot of William DeBello, PhD

Position Title
Associate Professor

Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior


Molecular Plasticity of Owl Optic Tectum

Research Summary

The Barn Owl Connectome Project

Our current goal is to reconstruct the complete wiring diagram of local circuits in the barn owl auditory localization pathway. This is a classic model system for studying the neural bases of information processing, plasticity and learning. Our integrative approach combines in vivo electrophysiology, auditory and visual receptive field mapping, tracer injection, immmunohistochemistry, confocal microscopy, automated transmission electron microscopy, 3D visualization, computer simulation and bootstrap analysis. We hope to better understand how individual life experience is encoded by changes in wiring patterns, and by extension, to shed light on principles of neural processing that are employed across brain regions and across species.

Select Publications

Nichols GS and DeBello WM (2008) Bidirectional regulation of the cyclic-AMP response element binding protein encodes spatial map alignment in prism-adapting barn owls. Journal of Neuroscience 28(40):9898-9909.

DeBello WM (2008) Micro-rewiring as a substrate for learning. Trends in Neurosciences 31(11):600-610.

McBride TJ, Rodriguez-Contreras A, Trinh A, Bailey R and DeBello WM (2008) Learning drives differential clustering of axodendritic contacts in the barn owl auditory system. Journal of Neuroscience 28(27):6960-73.

Swofford JA and DeBello WM. (2007) Transcriptome changes associated with instructed learning in the barn owl auditory localization pathway. Developmental Neurobiology 67(11):1457-77.

DeBello WM, Mikula S, Nguyen PL, Karten HJ and Jones EG (2006) A digital atlas of the brain of the barn owl, Tyto Alba. Online publication: BrainMaps.org.

Rodriguez-Contreras A, Liu XB and DeBello WM (2005) Axo-dendritic contacts onto calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase type II-expressing neurons in the barn owl auditory space map. Journal of Neuroscience 25(23):5611-5622.

DeBello WM and Knudsen EI (2004) Multiple sites of adaptive plasticity in the auditory localization pathway. Journal of Neuroscience 24(31):6853-6861.


Center for Neuroscience

Department of Neurobiology Physiology and Behavior