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Laboratory of Brain and Cognition Laboratory of Brain and Cognition (LBC)

Laboratory of Brain and Cognition (LBC)


The Laboratory of Brain and Cognition (LBC) is a branch of the Division of Intramural Research Programs (IRP) at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The NIMH is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH ), the principal biomedical and behavioral research agency of the United States Government.  NIH is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS ).

The LBC consists of three Sections and a Team, headed by Dr. Alex Martin (Section on Cognitive Neuropsychology), Dr. Peter A. Bandettini (Section on Functional Imaging Methods), Dr. Chris I. Baker (Section on Learning and Plasticity), and Dr. Eli Merriam (Computational Neuroimaging and Perception Team) with Dr. Martin serving as the acting Laboratory Chief.

The LBC is a highly interactive and collegial environment, in which collaborations within and across the Sections are encouraged. There are two main themes of research in the LBC:

  • Human Cognitive Neuroscience and Functional Brain Imaging - Three Sections in the LBC, headed by Drs. Martin (sCNP), Bandettini (sFIM), and Baker (sLP), and the Team led by Dr. Merriam (CNaP) plan and conduct research on the functional organization of the human brain using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The primary focus is on the visual modality as a model system for investigating perception, attention, learning, memory, decision-making, and the representation of semantic knowledge. Functional brain imaging studies are motivated by both the anatomy and physiology of the visual system in non-human primates and cognitive impairments produced by focal brain lesions in humans, as well as by models from cognitive science.
  • Functional Imaging Methods - The long-term research goal of Dr. Bandettini’s Section is the development and implementation of advanced fMRI methods towards an increased understanding of the functional organization and physiology of the human brain, and ultimately increased clinical utility. A major focus has been to understand the relationship between neuronal activity and fMRI signal changes, and to explore new methods for extraction of neuronal information from resting and active fMRI time series. sFIM research has been balanced across the four themes of methodology, technology, interpretation, and applications. In recent years, this focus has shifted towards more interpretative and methodological advancements.