Blake A. Richards

faculty_img Academic Title: Assistant Professor

Campus: UTSC

CSB Appointment: Full

Primary Undergraduate Department:
Biological Sciences, UTSC

Graduate Programs:
Cell & Systems Biology

Titles and Honors
Academic or Administrative Appointments
D.Phil. University of Oxford 2010
M.Sc. University of Oxford 2007
B.Sc. University of Toronto 2004


Mailing Address
Department of Cell & Systems Biology
University of Toronto
1265 Military Trail
Scarborough, ON M1C 1A4


Contact Information
Office phone: 416-208-2739
Office: SW 525
Lab: SW 527
Lab phone:


Research Areas
Bioinformatics & Computational Biology
Developmental Biology
Psychology & Behavior
Systems Biology



Our perceptions, actions, and memories emerge from the communications that occur between the cells in our nervous system. This remarkable feat of physiology is made possible by the billions of precisely tuned synaptic connections between the neurons of the brain. These connections are not hard-wired by the genome, though. In all animals, from insects up to humans, neurons use the information contained in sensory and motor experience to shape their synaptic connections. I am interested in understanding how this process works in a variety of animal species and neural circuits. The broad goal of my lab is to develop an integrated picture of learning that links cellular-level circuit properties to the information processing that determines how animals perceive, act and remember. More specifically, we are investigating (1) the cellular mechanisms that enable sensory learning in early life and (2) how old memories alter the way in which cells encode new information. We use a combination of electrophysiology, behavioural testing, 2-photon microscopy, genetic tools and computational modelling in our studies.




Sensory-Evoked Spiking Behavior Emerges via an Experience-Dependent Plasticity Mechanism.van Rheede JJ, Richards BA, Akerman CJ. Neuron 2015 Sep;87(5):1050-62


Clonal Relationships Impact Neuronal Tuning within a Phylogenetically Ancient Vertebrate Brain Structure.Muldal AM, Lillicrap TP, Richards BA, Akerman CJ. Curr. Biol. 2014 Aug;24(16):1929-33
Neurons Are Recruited to a Memory Trace Based on Relative Neuronal Excitability Immediately before Training.Yiu AP, Mercaldo V, Yan C, Richards B, Rashid AJ, Hsiang HL, Pressey J, Mahadevan V, Tran MM, Kushner SA, Woodin MA, Frankland PW, Josselyn SA. Neuron 2014 Aug;83(3):722-35
Patterns across multiple memories are identified over time.Richards BA, Xia F, Santoro A, Husse J, Woodin MA, Josselyn SA, Frankland PW. Nat. Neurosci. 2014 Jul;17(7):981-6