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Photo of Arash Afraz, MD, PhD, Chief of Unit on Neurons, Circuits and Behavior (UNCB)

Arash Afraz, M.D., Ph.D.

Research Topics

Dr. Afraz claims to be interested in everything related to the brain function. Since that covers almost everything in the realm of human experience thus hard to define, following is the general sketch of his group's practical research focus. Dr. Afraz's group, Unit on Neurons, Circuits and Behavior, studies the neural mechanisms of visual object recognition. The research team is particularly interested in establishing causal links between the neural activity in the ventral stream of visual processing in the brain and object recognition behavior. The group combines visual psychophysics with conventional methods of single unit recording as well as microstimulation, drug microinjection and optogenetics to bridge the gap between the neural activity and visual perception.


Dr. Afraz received his MD from Tehran University of Medical Sciences in 2003. In 2005 he joined the Vision Science Laboratory at Harvard and studied spatial constraints of face recognition under the mentorship of Dr. Patrick Cavanagh. Dr. Afraz received his PhD in Psychology from Harvard University in 2009. Right after, he joined Dr. James DiCarlo's group at MIT as a postdoctoral fellow to study the neural underpinnings of face and object recognition. Dr. Afraz started at NIMH as a principal investigator in 2017 to lead the unit on Neurons, Circuits and Behavior (Afraz group).

Selected Publications

Azadi R, Bohn S, Lopez E, Lafer-Sousa R, Wang K, Eldridge MAG, Afraz A (2023). Image-dependence of the detectability of optogenetic stimulation in macaque inferotemporal cortex. Curr Biol 33, 581-588.e4. [Pubmed Link ]

Lafer-Sousa R, Wang K, Azadi R, Lopez E, Bohn S, Afraz A (2022). Behavioral detectability of optogenetic stimulation of inferior temporal cortex varies with the size of concurrently viewed objects. Curr Res Neurobiol 4, 100063. [Pubmed Link ]

Rajalingham R, Sorenson M, Azadi R, Bohn S, DiCarlo JJ, Afraz A (2021). Chronically implantable LED arrays for behavioral optogenetics in primates. Nat Methods 18, 1112-1116. [Pubmed Link ]

Afraz A (2019). Insight into the Neuron's Insight. Cell 177, 801-803. [Pubmed Link ]

Hasantash M, Lafer-Sousa R, Afraz A, Conway BR (2019). Paradoxical impact of memory on color appearance of faces. Nat Commun 10, 3010. [Pubmed Link ]

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