John A. Assad

John A. Assad

Assistant Professor of Neurobiology
Department of Neurobiology, Harvard Medical School

Understanding how the primate brain controls behavior by integrating external sensory information with internal states, such as attention or motivation.The goal of my lab’s research is to understand how the primate brain controls behavior by integrating external sensory information with internal states, such as attention or motivation. The brain has an astonishing ability to flexibly link sensation and action. The same visual object may trigger different actions depending on external context or the animal’s internal needs, preferences or state of attention. My lab uses electrophysiological techniques to study the brain computations between sensory input and motor output. We have focused on three important aspects of this processing chain: 1) how visual information is transformed into a behaviorally useful form, 2) how appropriate movements are initiated at precise times, and 3) how the value of objects or goals in the environment is assigned to guide behavior. For many of these studies, my lab has focused on the parietal cortex, a part of the brain that acts as a bridge between sensation and action. We have also examined the role of the basal ganglia in movement control, an issue that is relevant for understanding movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, and we have studied the orbitofrontal cortex in the context of how the brain represents value.

Selected Publications:

Pisanello, F., Sileo, L., Oldenburg, I.A., Pisanello, M., Martiradonna, L., Assad, J.A., Sabatini, B.L., and De Vittorio, M.  (2014)  Multipoint-emitting optical fibers for spatially addressable in vivo optogenetics.  Neuron. 82(6):1245-54.

Assad, J.A. (2014) Neuroscience: Updating views of visual updating.  Nature. 507(7493):434-5.

Aghdaee, S.M., Battelli, L., and Assad, J.A. (2014) Relative timing: from behaviour to neurons. Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences. 369(1637):20120472.

Volcic, R., Fantoni, C., Caudek, C., Assad, J.A., and Domini, F.  (2013)  Visuomotor adaptation changes stereoscopic depth perception and tactile discrimination. The Journal of neuroscience: the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 33(43):17081-8.

Fitzgerald, J.K., Freedman, D.J., Fanini, A., Bennur, S., Gold, J.I., and Assad, J.A. (2013) Biased associative representations in parietal cortex.  Neuron. 77(1):180-91.


Contact Information

Harvard Medical School
Warren Alpert Building, Room 222
200 Longwood Avenue,
Boston, MA 02115
p: 617 432-2804

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