Neuro Research & People

We asked questions such as: How can we develop more realistic behavioral paradigms for stopping inappropriate response tendencies? What are the critical nodes in the human brain for behavioral response control? How do deficits in response control in simple laboratory tasks relate to clinical impulse control disorders? How does stopping affect long term memory retrieval? The lab had a particular focus on the prefrontal cortex and the basal ganglia. Some example projects are listed below. The lab had systems for Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation and EEG. Our MRI scanning was done at the UCSD fMRI center. We collaborated with clinician-scientists to study Parkinson’s patients. We also studied response control in mice via a collaboration with UCSD Neurobiology. Funding was mostly from the National Institutes of Health (NIDA, NINDS). The following vignettes give a flavor:

Local Field Potential Recording in Parkinson’s Patients

The subthalamic nucleus of the basal ganglia appears to be an important node in wider fronto-basal-ganglia circuits for stopping action. With collaborators at Toronto Western Hospital in Canada, over several years, we recorded from the subthalamic nucleus while patients performed simple tasks. This work was supported by an NIH R01 Grant from NINDS.

Probing the motor system using Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

We used TMS to deliver pulses over primary motor cortex and we then record the evoked response in the muscles. When done during a task this provides high temporal resolution information about the activation and suppression of impending responses. We developed a way of doing this in a real-time feedback loop, see here. We also performed stimulation studies over prefrontal cortex.

Electrocorticography studies of stopping action

With our colleagues at UT Houston Medical School we studied epilepsy patients who had implanted intracranial electrodes. We thus acquired high spatiotemporal resolution information about different regions (and networks) of the brain We also stimulated these electrodes during task performance, e.g. here and this news report. This work was supported by an NIH R01 grant from NIDA.

Response Control in Mice

Via a local collaboration with Hnasko lab at UCSD we studied response control in mice. We took advantage of cutting edge tools in optogenetics, tracing and imaging to examine how the basal ganglia and cortex are engaged during simple tasks. This work was supported by an NIH R01 Grant from NINDS.

Human Cortex-Basal Ganglia Action Regulating Networks

We participated in a multi-site UO1 Brain Initiative grant entitled: “Invasive Approach to Model Human Cortex-Basal Ganglia Action-Regulating Networks”. This involved simultaneous recording from cortex and basal ganglia in humans undergoing surgical procedures, and heralded a unique opportunity to learn about these circuits. For related ideas see here.

Adam Aron

Professor in the Psychology Department and former faculty member in the UCSD Neuroscience Graduate Program | CV | Google Scholar.

Adam hails from Southern Africa (eSwatini), studied at the Universities of Cape Town and Edinburgh, did PhD at Cambridge University and was a postdoc at UCLA.

Pria Daniel

Graduate Student in Psychology

Pria is co-advised by Dr Simon Little, UCSF


Former Postdocs from the Lab

Ricci Hannah, PhD, lecturer, King’s College London

Sumitash Jana, PhD, assistant professor Indian Institute of Technology

Vignesh Muralhidaran, PhD, Chennai, India

Johanna Wagner, PhD, Project Scientist, UCSD

Jan Wessel PhD, assistant professor University of Iowa

Yu-Chin Chiu PhD, assistant professor Purdue

Nitin Gupta PhD, assistant professor Indian Institute of Technology

Weidong Cai PhD, Clinical Assistant Professor, Stanford University

Diederick Stoffers, PhD, Facility and Operations Manager, Spinoza Center for Neuroimaging

Graduate students who completed PhD

Psychology Program

Ian Greenhouse PhD, assistant professor U Oregon

Kelsey Sundby, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, NIH

Scott Freeman, PhD, Sony corporation, California

Neuroscience Program

Nicki Swann PhD, assistant professor U Oregon

Neuroscience and Medical Scientist Training Program

Adnan Majid MD PhD, psychiatrist Los Angeles

Graduate students who didn’t compete PhD

Anna Castiglione, MA, climate physics University of Trento, Italy

Melissa Burney, Nurse Practitioner in Neurology

Katherine Tallman, graduate student UCSD

Lab Managers 

Dawn Finzi, graduate student Stanford

Jobi George, Mathworks in Bangalore, India

Christina Lewis, research assistant, Mount Sinai School of Medicine

Henri Skinner, graduate student UCSB

Priya Bisarya, Yale medical school

Undergraduates (long term)

Alexander Friedman, graduate student Duke University

Caitlin Oldenkamp, UCLA medical school

Cynthia Xu