William DeBello

image of William DeBello

Associate Professor


Center for Neuroscience
Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior

Offices and Labs

1515 Newton Ct.
(530) 754-7165


1996 PhD (Neurobiology) Duke University
1990 BS (Biology) Stanford University

Research Interests

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.


Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers
Frontiers of Science Symposium, National Academies

Department and Center Affiliations

Center for Neuroscience
Department of Neurobiology, Phsyiology, and Behavior

CBS Grad Group Affiliations


Specialties / Focus

  • Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology
  • Development and Plasticity
  • Systems Neuroscience


SOM rm 106/317
  • DeBello Lab: Will DeBello, Tom McBride

Teaching Interests

Plasticity and learning, auditory system, human physiology, seminar speaking.


5/21/2010 9:26:34 AM
  • 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, X.-B., and DeBello, W.M. (2005) Axo-dendritic Contacts onto CaMKII-Expressing Neurons in the Barn Owl Auditory Space Map. J Neuroscience 25(23):5611-5622.
  • DeBello, W.M. and Knudsen, E.I. (2004) Multiple Sites of Adaptive Plasticity in the Auditory Localization Pathway. J. Neuroscience 24(31):6853-6861.
  • DeBello, W.M., Feldman, D.E., Knudsen, E.I. (2001) Adaptive Axonal Remodeling in the Midbrain Auditory Space Map. J. Neuroscience. 21(9):3161-3174.
  • DeBello, W.M. and Knudsen, E.I. (2001) Adaptive Plasticity of the Auditory Space Map. Towards a Theory of Neuroplasticity. 13-30.
  • Knudsen, E.I., Zheng W., DeBello, W.M. (2000) Traces of Learning in the auditory localization pathway. PNAS 97(22): 11815-20.