Li-Ping Wang 

 Principal Investigator

Laboratory of Comparative Psychobiology

Institute of Neuroscience, Chinese Academy of Sciences

CAS Center for Excellence in Brain Science and Intelligence Technology

320 YueYang Road, Shanghai 200031, China


Phone: +86 21 5492 1691

Research Areas

Humans have been called “the symbolic species”, because they are capable of grasping abstract symbolic patterns that could be generalized to a broad range of novel stimuli. This capacity is most evident in the domain of language learning, as well as in mathematics and music, where human cognition is vastly more developed than that of other primates. It is often proposed that language faculty reflects a broader human-specific ability to acquire and represent recursive structures or regular combinations of symbols. Searching for comparative evidence on the neural representation of rules and symbols may therefore shed light on the evolutionary origin of human-specific cognition.

The lab is aimed to investigate the neural mechanisms of sequence learning, working memory and self-consciousness in both humans and non-human primates. By conducting psychophysics, electroencephalogram (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) experiments in humans, and single-unit recordings and fMRI in awake monkeys, we are interested in answering the following questions:

Q1. How do human brains encode linguistic and non-linguistic sequence structures?
Q2. How do monkey brains encode hierarchical structures in sequences? Can we identify the neural ensembles representing nested-structures in homologous areas of human language regions?
Q3. In what ways do the neural codes differ in human and non-human primates, for encoding the primitives and combinatorial operations of incoming sequences, as often associated with memory?
Q4. What are the neural mechanisms of cross-modal working memory?
Q5. How do human and monkey brains represent bodily self-consciousness?



Ph.D. in   Cognitive Psychology, ECNU-Johns Hopkins University Joint PhD Program, China



B.S.,   Biology, Computer Science, East China Normal University (ECNU), China



Principal Investigator, Institute of   Neuroscience, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai, China



Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, ECNU,   Shanghai


Postdoctoral Associate, NeuroSpin, INSERM, CEA,   France


Postdoctoral Associate, Tokyo University, Japan


(1) Language and sensory neural plasticity in the superior temporal cortex of the deaf, Neural Plasticity, 2018, 
(2) The language of geometry: Fast comprehension of geometrical primitives and rules in human adults and preschoolers., PLoS Computational  Biology, 2017.  (In press)

(3) Neural correlates of heat-evoked pain memory in humans, Journal of Neurophysiology, 2016
(4) Representation of Numerical and Sequential Patterns in Macaque and Human Brains, Current Biology, 2015
(5) The Neural Representation of Sequences: From Transition Probabilities to Algebraic Patterns and Linguistic Trees, Neuron, 2015
(6) Differential roles of delay-period neural activity in the monkey dorsral prefrontal cortex in visual-haptic crossmodal working memoryolate, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 2015
(7) Distributed neural networks of tactile working memory, Journal of Physiology Paris, 2013


Mengfan Shi   Master Student  071006-Neurobiology  

Guangyao Qi   Master Student  071006-Neurobiology  

Tenghai Long  Ph.D Student      071006-Neurobiology  

Shenghao Li    Ph.D Student      071006-Neurobiology  

Honors & Distinctions

2015 The Gilles-Kahn Prize, FFCSA, France