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Laboratory of Neuropsychology

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Bruno Averbeck, Ph.D. | Chief, Section on Learning and Decision Making
Dr. Averbeck attained a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Minnesota in 1994. After working 3 years in industry, he returned to the University of Minnesota and completed a Ph.D. in Neuroscience in 2001, working in the lab of Dr. Apostolos Georgopoulos. His thesis was titled, "Neural Mechanisms of Copying Geometrical Shapes". Following his thesis work, he carried out post-doctoral studies at the University of Rochester with Dr. Daeyeol Lee. During this period he studied neural mechanisms underlying sequential learning, coding of vocalizations and population coding. In 2006, he moved to University College London as a senior Lecturer, where he began experiments looking at the role of frontal-striatal circuits in learning, combining neurophysiology, brain imaging and patient studies. In 2009, he moved to the NIMH and established the Section on Learning and Decision Making in the Laboratory of Neuropsychology.

Vincent Costa, Ph.D. | Postdoctoral Fellow
Dr. Costa is a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Averbeck's Section on Learning and Decision Making. His research in humans and non-human primates, combines behavioral modeling with neurophysiology, circuit breaking techniques, and behavioral pharmacology to build computational accounts of motive neural circuit function that push beyond phenomenological definitions of learning and motivation. Dr. Costa’s current interests focus on understanding how dopamine functions in the amygdala, ventral striatum, and orbitofrontal cortex to control varieties of reinforcement learning and exploratory decision making. Before coming to the NIH, Dr. Costa received a B.S. in Psychology from Syracuse University in 2004. He then participated in a post-baccalaureate training program in psychophysiology at the University of Florida Center for the Study of Emotion and Attention. He received his Ph.D. in 2011 from the University of Florida mentored by Drs. Margaret Bradley and Peter Lang, where he used psychophysiology and neuroimaging in humans to research mechanisms of emotional perception, imagery, and learning. Towards the end of his graduate training, Dr. Costa decided to shift the focus of his work from human to animal models as he became interested in how neural circuits implemented computations underlying motivated behaviors.

Ramon Bartolo-Orozco, Ph.D. | Postdoctoral Fellow
Dr. Bartolo received his PhD in Biomedical Research in November 2014 from the National University of Mexico. There, he worked at the Institute for Neurobiology under the supervision of Hugo Merchant, studying the neuronal mechanisms underlying the timing of motor actions using both human psychophysics and single unit/LFP recordings in macaque monkeys. Specifically, he studied the role of premotor cortico-basal ganglia loops in the control of externally and internally paced movement sequences. He joined Averbeck’s group in February 2015 to study how ensembles of neurons process and store information, how the neural dynamics are modified by experience, and how the stimulus-action-outcome interaction is encoded by neurons. To address these questions he uses large-scale, multi-electrode electrophysiological data during the performance of tasks that involve the learning of stimulus-action associations.

Corrie Camalier, Ph.D. | Postdoctoral Fellow
Dr. Camalier studies the neural correlates of selective, effortful listening. Sound localization is imprecise but fast; perfectly suited for orienting and selection processes critical for survival. To identify how the brain implements spatial auditory attention, she records how neural activity in the primate dorsal auditory stream correlates with decisions that rely on both sound localization and selective spatial attention. This research develops an initial map of the cortical organization underpinning spatial selective hearing at a single-neuron level. Practically, this work points to potential biomarkers and therapeutic targets for diagnosis and remediation of complex hearing disorders, such as an abnormal difficulty with hearing in noise. Before joining the NIH’s Laboratory of Neuropsychology in 2014, she received her PhD in Systems Neuroscience in 2010 from Vanderbilt University, under Dr. Troy Hackett and Dr. Jon Kaas. There she discovered basic temporal restrictions that functionally constrain the two processing streams of primate auditory cortex. She went on to study the interaction of cognition and deep brain stimulation therapy at Vanderbilt Neurosurgery. Her current work at the NIH with Dr. Bruno Averbeck and Dr. Mortimer Mishkin continues to answer questions about how our sensory volley is shaped by cognition, and ultimately, when and where it may be most susceptible to therapeutic intervention.