Staff Profiles

Rylan Larsen, Ph.D.

Scientist I

Rylan Larsen joined the Allen Institute in 2014 as a scientist working in the Neural Coding group. Prior to joining the Institute, he earned his Ph.D. in 2013 from the department of Cell Biology and Physiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, studying under the mentorship of Dr. Ben Philpot. During his Ph.D., he used electrophysiology to study how sensory experience and development altered NMDA-type glutamate receptor expression and synaptic plasticity in the visual cortex. His most recent graduate work used optogenetic approaches to study how specific intracortical synapses are shaped by the visual environment. Prior to earning his Ph.D., he was a postbaccalaureate researcher at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD and he earned a B.S. in Biology from Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah.


Research Interests

I am interested in how cortical processing is influenced by the signaling from other brain areas that relay information regarding attention, reward, and other behavioral states. In the cortex, I am studying how extracortical inputs shape the cortical and behavioral response to sensory stimuli. To understand this, I will use calcium imaging to visualize neuronal activity of genetically-defined neuromodulatory cell types, optogenetics and electrophysiology to alter the activity of these cells, and behavior to determine how these cells contribute to a behavioral state in an intact organism.


  • Electrophysiology
  • Synaptic transmission and plasticity
  • Optogenetics

Research Programs

  • Neural Coding
  • Mindscope


Selected Publications View on PUBMED

A Suite of Transgenic Driver and Reporter Mouse Lines with Enhanced Brain-Cell-Type Targeting and Functionality

July 12, 2018

Daigle TL, Madisen L, Hage TA, Valley MT, Knoblich U, Larsen RS, Takeno MM, Huang L, Gu H, Larsen R, Mills M, Bosma-Moody A, Siverts LA, Walker M, Graybuck LT, Yao Z, Fong O, Nguyen TN, Garren E, Lenz GH, Chavarha M, Pendergraft J, Harrington J, Hirokawa KE, Harris JA, Nicovich PR, McGraw MJ, Ollerenshaw DR, Smith KA, Baker CA, Ting JT, Sunkin SM, Lecoq J, Lin MZ2, Boyden ES, Murphy GJ, da Costa NM, Waters J, Li L, Tasic B, Zeng H

Neuromodulatory Correlates of Pupil Dilation

Frontiers in Neural Circuits
March 9, 2018

Larsen RS, Waters J

Activation of neuromodulatory axon projections in primary visual cortex during periods of locomotion and pupil dilation

December 19, 2018

Larsen RS, Turschak E, Daigle T, Zeng H, Zhuang J, Waters J

Synapse-Specific Control of Experience-Dependent Plasticity by Presynaptic NMDA Receptors

August 20, 2014

Larsen RS, Smith IT, Miriyala J, Han JE, Corlew RJ, Smith SL, Philpot BD

Triad3A Regulates Synaptic Strength by Ubiquitination of Arc

June 18, 2014

Mabb AM, Je HS, Wall MJ, Robinson CG, Larsen RS, Qiang Y, Corrêa SA, Ehlers MD.

Genetic deletion of NR3A accelerates glutamatergic synapse maturation

PloS One
August 1, 2012

Henson MA, Larsen RS, Lawson SN, Pérez-Otaño I, Nakanishi N, Lipton SA, Philpot BD

NR3A-containing NMDARs promote neurotransmitter release and spike timing-dependent plasticity

Nature Neuroscience
February 6, 2011

Larsen RS, Corlew RJ, Henson MA, Roberts AC, Mishina M, Watanabe M, Lipton SA, Nakanishi N, Pérez-Otaño I, Weinberg RJ, Philpot BD

Activity-induced remodeling of olfactory bulb microcircuits revealed by monosynaptic tracing

PloS One
December 28, 2011

Arenkiel BR, Hasegawa H, Yi JJ, Larsen RS, Wallace ML, Philpot BD, Wang F, Ehlers MD

STDP in the Developing Sensory Neocortex

Frontiers in Synaptic Neuroscience
June 9, 2010

Larsen RS, Rao D, Manis PB, Philpot BD