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Transforming the understanding
and treatment of mental illnesses.

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Research Topics

Dr. Bourne’s interest in systems neuroscience led to a fascination with how reliably and capably the brain develops and becomes tightly interconnected to enable the complex behaviors species have evolved to perform. However, development is an area of neuroscience that is often overlooked in terms of trying to define the substrate and cause of neurological and psychiatric disorders. Therefore, Dr. Bourne’s overarching research goal is to probe the neural substrate of certain diseases and conditions through the development lens. A region of the brain that will be part of a significant focus is the pulvinar nuclei of the thalamus, which has expanded in size, complexity and function throughout mammalian evolution. Therefore, an overarching aim of the Section on Cellular and Cognitive Neurodevelopment is to take a multi-technique approach to explore the development of thalamocortical circuits and their plasticity into adulthood. This approach has the potential to identify the neural underpinnings of disorders, including schizophrenia, autism and cortical blindness, as well as help us understand how the brain differentially operates at different stages of life.


Dr. James A. Bourne is the Chief of the Section on Cellular and Cognitive Neurodevelopment. He received his BSc in Biochemistry from Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine (London) and his Ph.D. in Neuropharmacology from King’s College London. He then spent the next two decades in Australia at the University of Queensland and later at Monash University. In 2003, he was awarded an Australian Research Council (ARC) Fellowship and started to advance an independent area of research exploring the development and maturation of the primate visual system. Through a multidisciplinary cell-to-system approach, his group has influenced views on the developmental organization and plasticity of the primate visual system and how perturbations to specific circuits at a particular period in development can have life-long implications on visually-guided behaviors.

Selected Publications

Boghdadi A, Spurrier J, Teo L, Li MF, Skarica M, Cao B, Kwan WC, Merson TD, Nilsson SK, Sestan N, Strittmatter SM, Bourne JA (2021) NogoA-expressing astrocytes limit peripheral macrophage infiltration after ischemic brain injury in primates. Nature Communications [Pubmed Link ]

Mundinano IC, Kwan WC, Bourne JA (2019) Retinotopic specializations of cortical and thalamic inputs to area MT. Proc Natl Acad Sci (USA), 116:23326 [Pubmed Link ]

Mundinano IC, Fox DM, Kwan WC, Vidaurre D, Teo L, Homman-Ludiye, Goodale MA, Leoplod DA, Bourne JA (2018) Transient visual pathway critical for normal development of primate grasping behavior. Proc Natl Acad Sci (USA), 115:1364 [Pubmed Link ]

Mundinano IC, Flecknell PA, Bourne JA (2016) MRI-guided stereotaxic brain surgery in the common marmoset. Nature Protocols, 11:1299 [Pubmed Link ]

Warner CE, Kwan WC, Wright D, Johnston LA, Egan GF, Bourne JA (2015) Preservation of vision by the pulvinar following early-life primary visual cortex lesions. Current Biology, 25:424 [Pubmed Link ]

BETHESDA, MD 20814-4486

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