Leslie M. Kay, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Psychology and The College
IMB Member (since 2000)


Leslie M. Kay, Ph.D. is Professor in the Department of Psychology and The College. From 2008-2014, Kay served as Institute Director. She is a member of the Committees on Neurobiology and Computational Neuroscience.

Kay received a BA in Liberal Arts from St. John’s College in Santa Fe, New Mexico and then worked for the original GenBank project at Los Alamos National Laboratory from 1982-85. She worked as a programmer/analyst in business applications for a number of years in the mid- to late 80s, and then returned to graduate school at UC Berkeley. She completed her dissertation research in the laboratory of Walter J. Freeman, and received a Ph.D. in Biophysics in 1995. Kay completed postdoctoral research in the laboratory of Gilles Laurent at the California Institute of Technology, where she studied olfactory bulb mitral cell responses to changes in odor context.

About the Kay Lab
The Kay laboratory uses behavioral neurophysiology to examine how context, perceptual history, learning and physiological state interact within the brain during sensory perception. The lab studies the physiology of sensory and perceptual processing and learning in the olfactory and limbic systems, using laboratory rats and mice, with several behavioral paradigms designed to uncover different behavioral and cognitive states. Recording and analytical techniques span several scales, from the single neuron, to small populations, large populations, and distributed systems of cortical and subcortical regions. Theoretical interpretations are aimed at understanding system level dynamics and pathology and at examining neural coding hypotheses using the framework of complex dynamical systems.
Research Interests
Behavioral Neurophysiology, Neurobiology, Computational Neuroscience