Neuroscience Graduate Program Faculty

Neuroscience Graduate Program Faculty

Carlos Aizenman
Associate Professor of Neuroscience
The long-term goal of my research is to understand the role of sensory experience in shaping the connectivity and functional properties of developing neural circuits, as well as it's implications for neurodevelopmental disorders. We focus on the visual system of Xenopus laevis tadpoles; a preparation amenable to a variety of experimental approaches, ranging from molecular biology, single-cell electrophysiology, live cell imaging, computational modeling, and behavior. Read More

Dima Amso
Assistant Professor of Cog Lig & Psych Sci
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Wael Asaad
Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery
My lab is interested in how the frontal cortex and basal ganglia work together to enable rapid learning and highly-contingent decision making. Our methods involve multi-electrode neuronal recordings as well as neurostimulation in human and nonhuman subjects, in both the operative and laboratory settings. We're interested in developing ways to foster or augment learning to improve recovery from neurologic illness or injury. Read More

David Badre
Assistant Professor
How do we choose our actions given our goals, knowledge, and circumstances? Humans can avoid habitual tendencies and pick the right action for the right situation, an ability termed "cognitive control" or "executive function". Losing cognitive control, due to neurological or psychiatric condition, severely diminishes independence and quality of life. Our lab studies cognitive control of memory and action, using cognitive neuroscience methods that include fMRI and testing of patient populations. Read More

Gilad Barnea
Robert and Nancy Carney Assistant Professor of Neuroscience
Our laboratory studies how the mammalian brain processes olfactory information and translates it into behavioral outputs. We are developing a new method for transsynaptic labeling of neural circuits combining molecular biology and mouse genetics. This method will enable us to map and characterize the neural circuits that the brain uses to process olfactory information. We also study the role of odorant receptors in the wiring of olfactory circuits. Finally, we are developing a molecular method to selectively record the activation Read More

Kevin Bath
Assistant Professor of Neuroscience (Research)
My program of research is heavily focused on understanding emotional development and how environmental or pharmacological stressors incurred early in life alter the developmental trajectory of brain centers involved in cognitive and emotional regulation. Read More

David Berson
Professor of Medical Science
The nervous system extracts and encodes different features the visual world to accomplish specific tasks. Spotting a familiar face in a crowd requires different information than hitting a fastball or judging the ripeness of fruit from its color. Different "channels" of visual information emerge already at the retinal level and are then routed to distinct visual centers of the brain. We seek to understand how retinal cells and circuits process and filter visual information in specific channels, and Read More

Lucien Elie Bienenstock
Associate Professor of Applied Mathematics and Neuroscience
My research is in theoretical neuroscience, computational vision, and computational linguistics. I study the mechanisms used by brains to create and work with complex, detailed, hierarchical representations of the external world. With colleagues in neuroscience and applied math, I investigate the hypothesis that the fine temporal structure of cortical activity, e.g. the synchronous firing of neurons, plays an important role in these representations. Read More

Sheila Blumstein
My research is concerned with delineating the neural basis of language and the processes and mechanisms involved in speaking and understanding. The research methodologies used include behavioral measures of aphasic patients correlated with structural measures of neuropathology and functional neuroimaging of normal subjects. I am interested in how the continuous acoustic signal is transformed by perceptual and neural mechanisms into the sound structure of language, how the sound structure of language maps to the lexicon (mental dictionary), and Read More

Wayne Bowen
Dept. Chair, Professor of Biology, Upjohn Professor of Pharmacology
We study sigma receptors, proteins found throughout the body. They bind several classes of psychoactive drugs. Activation of sigma-2 receptors causes programmed cell death (apoptosis). We are trying to understand the underlying mechanisms for this. Because they are highly expressed in cancer cells, we are targeting sigma-2 receptors for development of new antineoplastic agents. Also, antipsychotic drugs such as haloperidol damage neurons via sigma-2 receptors. Blocking sigma-2 receptors might prevent the irreversible motor side Read More

Rebecca Burwell
Professor of Cognitive, Linguistic & Psychological Sciences
My research program uses neuroanatomical, experimental lesion, optogenetic, and electrophysiological approaches to examine the contribution of brain regions adjacent to the hippocampus (including the perirhinal, postrhinal/parahippocampal, and entorhinal cortices) to memory and to other higher cognitive functions. Read More

Barry Connors
Professor and Chair
I study the cellular physiology of the mammalian brain. Most of my work centers on the neocortex, which is responsible for thinking, remembering, processing sensory information, and controlling movement. The neocortex is a vast network of interconnected neurons. My research group studies the properties of these neurons, their synaptic connections, and the characteristics of cortical networks. We are also interested in the mechanisms of epileptic seizures. Read More

Leon Cooper
Leon Cooper studies neural networks, including architecture, learning rules, and real world applications; the biological basis of memory and learning; mean field theories; the foundations of quantum theory; and superconductivity. Read More

Daniel Dickstein
Associate Professor; Director PediMIND Program
The ultimate goal of my research is to identify bio-behavioral markers--scans and tests--that will make the diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric disorders starting in childhood better--more specific, targeted, accurate, and earlier. This same approach has revolutionized the war on childhood cancer. Together, we can make a powerful difference! In particular, we have ongoing projects involving (a) bipolar disorder, ADHD, and anxiety, (b) teen suicide and self-cutting (non-suicidal self-injury), and (c) autism spectrum disorders. To learn more, to participate, or to partner in support our Read More

John Donoghue
Professor of Neuroscience
Our laboratory investigates how the brain turns thought into voluntary behaviors and how that knowledge can be used to help persons with paralysis. We study how populations of neurons represent and transform information as a motor plan becomes movement. This approach has required the creation of a novel recording array to study neural ensembles. With the knowledge we have gained about movement representation, we have translated our findings to a clinical application in which humans with paralysis can use their Read More

William Fairbrother
Associate Professor of Biology
My lab studies RNA splicing. A third of all hereditary disease mutations affect RNA splicing. Using deep sequencing and array based synthesis, we are measuring the effects of thousands of mutations and SNPs on splicing, spliceosome assembly and RNA protein binding. In the lab there is a strong emphasis on developing hybrid approaches to science, combining genome analysis and computational biology with experimentation. Read More

Justin Fallon
Professor of Medical Science
Our lab has two major interests. Duchenne muscular dystrophy strikes one in 3,000 boys. We are currently working to translate our basic science findings into a novel treatment for Duchenne's patients. Second, how do we learn, and why are we so good at it when we are young? Using Fragile X mental retardation as a model, we seek to understand how ephemeral episodes of experience are transformed into stable changes in synaptic architecture and efficacy. Read More

Nicolas Fawzi
Assistant Professor of Medical Science
My laboratory studies the structure, dynamics, and molecular interactions of protein aggregates implicated in neurodegenerative disease. Using a combination of novel NMR spectroscopy approaches and atomistic simulation supplemented by biophysical and imaging methods, we determine high-resolution structures of these species and their toxic interactions with other macromolecules and membranes, as well as their interactions with potential therapeutic agents. Read More

Michael Frank
Associate Profressor
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Stuart Geman
What are the basic principles of representation and computation in the nervous system? Cognitive scientists have argued for a theory based upon compositionality, which refers to the evident ability of brains to represent objects, scenes, thoughts and actions in a hierarchical structure. I am studying a mathematical formulation for compositionality, and the implications of this formulation for interpreting neural activity patterns and for building computer vision systems. Read More

Roger Hanlon
Senior Scientist, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA
The visual mechanisms of camouflage are a key interest of ours. How are predator visual systems deceived by certain features of pattern, color, contrast, brightness and even 3-dimensional skin texture? We study cephalopods (octopus, cuttlefish, squid), which have evolved nature's most sophisticated system of rapid adaptive coloration. Cephalopod vision provides a unique model system to study perception of complex visual environments, and the subsequent integration of visual stimuli that immediately (ca. 700msec) produces the neuromuscular motor output that results in Read More

Anne Hart
Professor of Biology
Anne Hart is a neurobiologist who uses genetic and molecular approaches in the small nematode C. elegans to understand the conserved mechanisms underlying neurodegenerative disease and nervous system function. She focuses on delineating cellular and molecular pathways pertinent to Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). Dr. Hart also studies how animals respond to sensory stimuli, adapt to environmental stress, and mechanisms of aging. Read More

Edward Hawrot
Alva O. Way University Professor of Medical Science
We pursue biochemical and pharmacological studies aimed at understanding the fundamental structure-function relationship of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs). We also study the molecular basis for the highly specific recognition of muscle-type nAChRs by certain snake venom-derived toxins classified as alpha-neurotoxins. More recently, we have used homologous recombination techniques to construct a knock-in mouse in which the alpha3 gene encoding one subtype of neuronal nAChRs has been minimally mutated to impart pharmacological sensitivity to the classic nicotinic antagonist, alpha-bungarotoxin. These Read More

Leigh Hochberg
Associate Professor of Engineering
Our Laboratory for Restorative Neurotechnology focuses on developing strategies to restore communication, mobility, and independence for people with paralysis or limb loss. In addition to endeavors related to the pilot clinical trial of the BrainGate2 Neural Interface System, we are interested in understanding human intracortical neurophysiology during the planning and production of voluntary movement, and understanding neuronal ensemble function in a variety of neurologic diseases or injuries. Read More

Diane Hoffman-Kim
Associate Professor
The goal of the Hoffman-Kim laboratory is to understand axon guidance in complex environments and inform biomaterial and tissue engineering strategies for promoting nerve regeneration. We apply engineering techniques to biological systems in vitro to challenge growing neurons with multiple guidance cues, including diffusible factors, substrate-bound molecules, electrical cues, and topographical surface features. Read More

Alexander Jaworski
Assistant Professor of Neuroscience
My laboratory studies the molecular and cellular mechanisms of brain wiring. The mature nervous system contains billions of neurons that are interconnected in a highly specific manner and communicate through trillions of synapses. We are interested in understanding how this complex wiring pattern is established during embryonic development. To this end we employ a variety of experimental approaches, including molecular biology, biochemistry, embryology, and mouse genetics. Read More

Stephanie Jones
Assistant Professor of Neuroscience (Research)
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Julie Kauer
My laboratory focuses on understanding molecular mechanisms involved in synaptic plasticity and modulation of neuronal excitability using modern electrophysiological techniques in brain slices. Our work is related to understanding fundamental processes in memory, in drug addiction and in chronic pain. Read More

Karla Kaun
Assistant Professor of Neuroscience
My lab uses the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster to investigate the neural substrates of drug reward at the molecular and cellular level by mapping areas in the fly brain that regulate alcohol reward, and uncovering genes and pathways never-before implicated in memory of alcohol reward. Read More

Barry Lester
Professor of Psychiatry & Human Behavior, Professor of Pediatrics
Children can be at risk for poor developmental outcome because of biological factors, social factors or the combination of biological and social factors. Biological factors include prenatal substance exposure, stress, maternal depression, and prematurity. Social factors include poverty, home environment, and parenting factors. By studying the development of these children we can understand processes, such as how the action of genes is altered by environmental factors, that drive development which can lead to interventions to reduce or prevent poor developmental Read More

Diane Lipscombe
Professor of Neuroscience
We are interested in the cellular mechanisms used to optimize calcium ion channel function. Calcium ion channels regulate many critical neuronal functions including transmitter release, nerve growth, and synaptic plasticity. Our current research focus is on cell-specific alternative splicing in the mammalian nervous system. We study cellular mechanisms that control calcium channel function in normal as well as in disease states, including chronic pain and mental illness. Read More

Albert Lo
Associate Professor of Neurology and Associate Professor of Epidemiology
• Stroke Robotic Upper Extremity Rehabilitation, Phase II/III Clinical Trials • Multiple Sclerosis Robot-Assisted Neurorehabilitation for Gait * Brain computer interface for communication in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis * Cortical mechanism of freezing in Parkinson's, near infrared-spectroscopy • Robot interventions for Parkinson's Disease Freezing of Gait • Neuroprotection in Multiple Sclerosis and Animal models • Investigations in Multiple Sclerosis Clinical Epidemiology in Rhode Island • Mild Traumatic Brain Injury: Impact on Attention, and Motor Control Read More

John Marshall
In response to hormonal or synaptic stimulation, excitable cells (including smooth muscle, cardiac muscle, and neurons) undergo a diversity of changes in their electrical properties. My lab is studying the trafficking and localization of glutamate receptors and calcium channels to synapses, and their modulation by protein kinases. Read More

Christopher Moore
Associate Professor of Neuroscience
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Eric Morrow
Assistant Professor in Biology and Psychiatry & Human Behavior
The Morrow lab investigates the genetic and molecular mechanisms underlying disorders of cognitive development, such as intellectual disability and autism. The long-term aim of this research is to establish a basic foundation for improved genetic diagnosis and treatment interventions designed to enhance cognitive and functional gains for patients. Because these disorders are highly genetic and in order to identify core molecular mechanisms, genome-wide "forward genetic" strategies to identify genetic mutations have been a principal focus. In complement Read More

Arto Nurmikko
Professor Nurmikko carries out research in neuroenginering/neurotechnology, nanophotonics, experimental laser sciences, and active electronic nanomaterials. Topics of interest range from new approaches to brain interfaces combining neural signal detection and neural stimulation of cortical microcircuits, strong light-matter interaction on subwavelength spatial scales, to the development and application of new optoelectronic devices (such as ultraviolet semiconductor sources. Read More

Elena Oancea
Assistant Professor of Medical Science
The focus of my laboratory is in understanding signal transduction events using fluorescent microscopy in living cells. My lab is equipped with a state-of-the-art two-color TIRF microscope, which we will use to study UV-induced pigmentation in human skin and melanoma behavior. To visualize signal transduction events, we design and generate novel fluorescent probes using molecular biology techniques, which give us a unique angle in answering biologically relevant questions. Read More

Michael Paradiso
Sidney A. and Dorothea Doctors Fox Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, Professor of Neuroscience
Humans are highly visual animals and the processing of visual information appears to involve a significant fraction of the brain. Vision involves interactions between neurons spread widely across the brain and it dynamically adapts to the needs of ongoing behavior. The aims of Dr. Paradiso's research are to elucidate the encoding of visual information in cerebral cortex, the computations performed by interacting neurons, and the adaptive use of neural circuitry, with the goal of understanding the mechanisms underlying Read More

Robert Reenan
Professor of Biology
We are interested in evolution of brain function and behavior. Our primary model system is Drosophila, the fruit fly, for its powerful traditional and molecular genetics. Our main question is - how do genomes encode and regulate proteins involved in rapid electrical and chemical signaling in the brain, normally and in disease? Surprisingly, this has led us into studies of RNA editing, comparative genomics, small non-coding RNA, heterochromatin, evolution of RNA structure, and inherited neurological disorders. Read More

Jerome Sanes
Professor of Neuroscience
I study brain mechanisms underlying motor control and learning. Several brain regions, including the frontal and parietal lobes, the basal ganglia, and the cerebellum, have involvement in voluntary movements, and these areas become engaged when humans learn and then consolidate new motor skills. Currently, we study these problems with magnetic resonance imaging technology that assesses focal changes in blood flow and by assessing movement patterns while humans perform various movement tasks. Read More

Yuka Sasaki
Associate Professor of Cognitive, Linguistic & Psychological Sciences

Thomas Serre
Assistant Professor of Cog Ling & Psych Sci
My long-term goal is to help realize one of the oldest dreams in artificial intelligence: To reverse-engineer the brain and build machines that can see and interpret the visual world as well as we do. Achieving such an ambitious goal would give scientists a powerful tool to uncover and understand key mechanisms of human perception and cognition as well as to create a new generation of "seeing" machines. Read More

David Sheinberg
Professor of Neuroscience
Research in my lab explores how we identify objects and events in the real world, where both the observer and the environment change over time. The brain must process a dynamic stream of sensory information and efficiently parse this information to reach conclusions about the presence or absence of noteworthy objects to which actions should be directed. By studying the activity of neural circuits involved in this process, we aim to better understand mechanisms underlying perception. Read More

Andrea Megela Simmons
My laboratory studies how the nervous system develops, matures, and reorganizes in response to damage. We use frogs as a model system because these animals go through a lengthy larval stage during which their bodies and brains transform to accommodate the transition from an aquatic to an amphibious lifestyle. As adults, frogs can regenerate damaged hair cells and cranial nerves, making them excellent models to understand the molecular bases of how the brain might recover from injury. Read More

James Simmons
Professor of Biology
I'm interested in understanding how the bat's sonar works and how the bat's brain makes sonar images. They make sounds, listen to echoes, and then see objects. To study echolocation, we go into the field and videotape bats using sonar for different purposes. These observations tell us in what situations bats use their sonar, and what sorts of sounds they use. If we know where the objects are in the videos, we can figure out what sounds get back to Read More

Joo-Hyun Song
Assistant Professor of Cognitive, Ling & Psychological Sci
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Wilson Truccolo
Assistant Professor of Neuroscience
• Theoretical Neuroscience: Collective dynamics and computation in neuronal networks Neural dynamics in neurological disorders • Statistical Neuroscience: Stochastic modeling of neural dynamics • Neuroengineering: Monitoring, prediction & control for neuromedical systems Read More

Takeo Watanabe
Professor of Cog Ling & Psych Sciences
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Tara White
Assistant Professor
Dr. Tara White is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences at Brown. Dr. White has strong research interests in the biological bases of personality and temperament, and differences between people in effects of alcohol and drugs on mood, behavior, and brain function. Her research is conducted at the Brown University Tim Trio 3 tesla MRI facility in Sidney Frank Hall and the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies. Read More

Mark Zervas
Adjunct Assistant Professor of Biology
Allocating specialized types of neurons and establishing their functional connections requires cell fate programming, differentiation, and neural circuit formation. We interrogate these coordinated mechanisms in midbrain dopamine neurons and thalamus relay neurons. We study these cells because they control movement and cognition, and are affected in Parkinson's disease, autism, and epilepsy. We also use knowledge of development to advance stem cell and pharmacological therapies in brain disease. Read More

Anita L. Zimmerman
Professor and Vice Chair
Our research is in molecular and cellular aspects of the nervous system, with an emphasis on ion channels and phototransduction in the eye and skin. Ion channels are membrane proteins that are critically involved in functions as diverse as the beating of the heart, visual perception, learning and memory, and hormone secretion. They are also targets for many drugs, and genetic defects in ion channels can cause devastating diseases, such as cystic fibrosis. Read More