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Principal Investigator: Mortimer Mishkin

Mortimer Mishkin

Section on Cognitive Neuroscience
Laboratory of Neuropsychology (LN)

Photo of Mortimer Mishkin


Dr. Mishkin is Chief of the Section on Cognitive Neuroscience in the Laboratory of Neuropsychology, NIMH. He received an A.B. from Dartmouth College (1946) and an M.A. (1949) and Ph.D. (1951) from McGill University. His master's thesis was directed by D. O. Hebb, and his Ph.D. thesis, performed at Yale University, was directed jointly by H.E. Rosvold and K.H. Pribram. In 1955, after completing his postdoctoral research with both Pribram at the Institute of Living and H.-L. Teuber at Bellevue Medical Center, he moved to NIMH as an Investigator. Dr. Mishkin served as Chief of the Laboratory of Neuropsychology from 1980 to 1997 and was Associate Director for Basic Research in the NIMH/IRP from 1994 to 1997. He is currently Acting Chief of the Laboratory of Neuropsychology and his section within it explores the neurobiological mechanisms of perception and memory.

Research Interests

The Section uses a multidisciplinary approach to investigate the neurobiological mechanisms underlying learning and memory in primates. In monkeys, the approach involves: (a) utilizing functional mapping techniques, including both autoradiography and neuroimaging, to delineate the cerebral territory belonging to a particular functional neural system; (b) studying the effects of selective lesions within that territory on the performance of specially designed learning and memory tasks in various sensory modalities, in the attempt to separate and identify different mnemonic functions and localize their critical neural substrates; (c) applying anatomical tracing techniques, to reveal how the different substrates belonging to a functional family are organized as components of a neural system or circuit; (d) recording electrophysiological activity within the identified substrates, to determine the nature of the information those neurons receive and transmit before, during, and after learning; and (e) injecting pharmacological agents into those same substrates, to relate the learning-dependent changes in behavior and neuronal activity to the underlying cellular and synaptic mechanisms. The learning and memory mechanisms uncovered in the research on monkeys serves as the basis for a search for homologous mechanisms in brain-damaged patients examined both neuropsychologically and with quantitative magnetic resonance techniques. (The research on patients is conducted in collaboration with a team at the University College London Institute of Child Health, led by Professor Faraneh Vargha-Khadem.)

Selected Publications

Monkeys have a limited form of short-term memory in audition . Scott BH, Mishkin M, Yin P. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Jul 24;109(30):12237-41. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1209685109. Epub 2012 Jul 9. PMID: 22778411.

Spontaneous high-gamma band activity reflects functional organization of auditory cortex in the awake macaque . Fukushima M, Saunders RC, Leopold DA, Mishkin M, Averbeck BB. Neuron. 2012 Jun 7;74(5):899-910. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2012.04.014. PMID: 22681693.

Test of a motor theory of long-term auditory memory . Schulze K, Vargha-Khadem F, Mishkin M. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 May 1;109(18):7121-5. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1204717109. Epub 2012 Apr 17. PMID: 22511719.

Two processes support visual recognition memory in rhesus monkeys . Guderian S, Brigham D, Mishkin M. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Nov 29;108(48):19425-30. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1117078108. Epub 2011 Nov 14. PMID: 22084079.

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