Richard Daniel Mooney

Richard Daniel Mooney

George Barth Geller Distinguished Professor for Research in Neurobiology

External Address: 
Bryan Research Building, 311 Research Drivebox 3209, Durham, NC 27710
Internal Office Address: 
Box 3209, Durham, NC 27710


Our broad research goal is to understand the neural mechanisms by which experience guides learning, behavior, and perception. Our group explores the structure and function of sensorimotor circuits important to learned vocal communication in the songbird and to auditory-motor integration in the mouse. In the course of these explorations, my research group has developed a wide range of technical expertise in both avian and mouse models, including in vivo multiphoton neuronal imaging, chronic recording of neural activity in freely behaving animals, in vivo and in vitro intracellular recordings from identified neurons, and manipulation of neuronal activity using electrical, chemical and optogenetic methods. Our group also has extensive experience with viral transgenic methods to manipulate gene expression, including genes implicated in human neurological disorders. Together, these methods provide a broad technical approach to identify the neural circuit mechanisms important to vocal learning, auditory perception and communication.

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., California Institute of Technology 1991

Selected Grants

Cell and Molecular Biology Training Program awarded by National Institutes of Health (Mentor). 2021 to 2026

Mechanisms for internally and externally guided sensorimotor learning awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2016 to 2026

Motor Modulation of Auditory Processing awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2020 to 2025

RNA-programmable cell type targeting and manipulation across vertebrate nervous systems awarded by National Institutes of Health (Co Investigator). 2021 to 2024

Neurobiology Training Program awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2019 to 2024

Corticostriatal contributions to motor exploration and reinforcement awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2020 to 2023

Using Genetic Tools to Dissect Neural Circuits for Social Communication awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2018 to 2023

The synaptic basis for social context specific auditory memory formation awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2020 to 2023

Circuit dynamics of predictive vocal suppression in auditory cortex awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2021 to 2022

Cortical Contribution to Innate Vocalizations awarded by European Molecular Biology Organization (Principal Investigator). 2020 to 2022


Singh Alvarado, Jonnathan, et al. “Neural dynamics underlying birdsong practice and performance.Nature, vol. 599, no. 7886, Nov. 2021, pp. 635–39. Pubmed, doi:10.1038/s41586-021-04004-1. Full Text

Goffinet, Jack, et al. “Low-dimensional learned feature spaces quantify individual and group differences in vocal repertoires.Elife, vol. 10, May 2021. Pubmed, doi:10.7554/eLife.67855. Full Text

Michael, Valerie, et al. “Circuit and synaptic organization of forebrain-to-midbrain pathways that promote and suppress vocalization.Elife, vol. 9, Dec. 2020. Pubmed, doi:10.7554/eLife.63493. Full Text

Mooney, Richard, and Michael Brecht. “Editorial overview: Neurobiology of behavior.Curr Opin Neurobiol, vol. 60, Feb. 2020, pp. iii–v. Pubmed, doi:10.1016/j.conb.2020.01.001. Full Text

Nieder, Andreas, and Richard Mooney. “The neurobiology of innate, volitional and learned vocalizations in mammals and birds.Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci, vol. 375, no. 1789, Jan. 2020, p. 20190054. Pubmed, doi:10.1098/rstb.2019.0054. Full Text

Kearney, Matthew Gene, et al. “Discrete Evaluative and Premotor Circuits Enable Vocal Learning in Songbirds.Neuron, vol. 104, no. 3, Nov. 2019, pp. 559-575.e6. Pubmed, doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2019.07.025. Full Text

Tschida, Katherine, et al. “A Specialized Neural Circuit Gates Social Vocalizations in the Mouse.Neuron, vol. 103, no. 3, Aug. 2019, pp. 459-472.e4. Pubmed, doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2019.05.025. Full Text

Tanaka, Masashi, et al. “A mesocortical dopamine circuit enables the cultural transmission of vocal behaviour.Nature, vol. 563, no. 7729, Nov. 2018, pp. 117–20. Pubmed, doi:10.1038/s41586-018-0636-7. Full Text

Schneider, David M., et al. “A cortical filter that learns to suppress the acoustic consequences of movement.Nature, vol. 561, no. 7723, Sept. 2018, pp. 391–95. Pubmed, doi:10.1038/s41586-018-0520-5. Full Text

Schneider, David M., and Richard Mooney. “How Movement Modulates Hearing.Annu Rev Neurosci, vol. 41, July 2018, pp. 553–72. Pubmed, doi:10.1146/annurev-neuro-072116-031215. Full Text


Mooney, Richard, et al. Data from: A neural hub that coordinates learned and innate courtship behaviors. 20 July 2021. Manual, doi:10.7924/r4fq9z00b. Full Text