2010 Predoctoral Fellowship Trainees

Sponsored by National Institutes of Health

View 2010 Predoctoral and Postdoctoral Fellowship Trainees


Name: Christopher Barkley
Sponsor: Robert Kluender
Project Title: Linking Brain, Genes, and Behavior: An attention based account of the early left anterior negativity (eLAN)
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I received both a B.A (2005) and M.A (2007) in Linguistics from the University of Florida, and am currently enrolled in the interdisciplinary program in Linguistics and Cognitive Science at U.C.S.D, with a specialization in Neuroscience.  Broadly speaking, I am interested in how the brain represents and processes the grammatical aspects of language, and how the language system interacts with more general cognitive systems.  More specifically, my interests include sentence and discourse processing, implicit learning, selective attention, and mapping genetic variation onto variation in language comprehension.

The project I am working on aims to map the relationship between genetic variation, attentional network efficiency, and online language comprehension.  Specifically, I aim to probe the link between allelic variation in genes that build and determine the efficacy of the brain's attention networks, variation in performance on a behavioral attention task, and variation in the characteristics of a putatively linguistic ERP component (the eLAN).  The goals of this work are to (1) provide a link between genetic variation and online parsing behaviors, and (2) generate data that enables a re-interpretation of the eLAN as a manifestation of the attentional system rather than the language system.



Name: Marina Garrett
Sponsor: Edward Callaway
Project Title: Mapping the Structure and Function of Mouse Visual Cortex
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After studying Physiology and Neuroscience as an undergraduate at UCSD, I decided to stay in sunny San Diego to do my graduate work in Ed Callaway's lab. I am interested in the relationship between function and connectivity in sensory systems. I aim to understand how information is integrated across cortical areas to give rise to coherent sensory perception. I also appreciate experience of the sensory world through creativity and art, and enjoy ceramics, photography and glass blowing.

My project aims to study the function and connectivity of the mouse visual system. I use intrinsic optical imaging to map the retinotopic organization of the visual cortex in order to identify distinct visual areas. Individual areas can then be targeted for anatomical study using retrograde tracer injections as well as for functional investigation. To examine the response properties of neural populations in unique visual areas, I use in vivo two photon calcium imaging to measure the activity of neurons in response to visual stimuli. I hope to ultimately combine anatomical and physiological methods to determine whether neurons in primary visual cortex provide stream specific information to functionally distinct higher visual areas.



Name: James Jeanne
Sponsor: Timothy Gentner
Project Title: The role of relevance and experience in auditory object encoding by single neurons and neural populations in an auditory cortical-like structure.
Email address:

James Jeanne is a PhD candidate working with Dr. Timothy Gentner at UCSD and Dr. Tatyana Sharpee at the Salk Institute. He received his Bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Princeton University in 2005. He is currently investigating how the brain processes complex sensory signals, and how this processing changes with experience. Our perception of the world around us requires our brains to find structure in the myriad patterns of sensory input that we experience every day. To perceive speech, for instance, we must recognize patterns of vibrations as phonemes, patterns of phonemes as syllables, patterns of syllables as words, and patterns of words as the phrases and sentences that convey information from the speaker. I am investigating the neural mechanisms of auditory perception of birdsong, which is a highly structured acoustic communication signal, similar to human speech. Birdsongs are composed from stereotyped clusters of notes called motifs, which can carry information about the bird’s identity. I am testing the hypothesis that neurons in the songbird forebrain encode informative motifs differently from uninformative motifs.



Name: Adam Koerner
Sponsor: Virginia de Sa
Project Title: Towards a speech brain-computer interface
Email address:

Adam received his BS in Bioengineering from the University of Washington. He is currently a 4th year graduate student in the Computational Neuroscience specialization of the Neurosciences graduate program. He is interested in the neural basis of communication, with a focus on speech production.

This project is aimed to investigate the neural signals associated with speech production and to utilize these signals in a noninvasive system that would allow locked-in individuals or individuals otherwise incapable of speech, to speak. This process will involve offline studies at first, followed by online studies that will demonstrate our ability to decode neural signals in real time for a functioning speech brain-computer interface (BCI). Initial experiments are already underway to look at the production of context-free vowel phonemes during imagined, silent and actual speech production. It has been shown that we are able to discriminate between the production of different context-free vowels, and it is proposed to build upon this result towards detecting vowels in context with consonants, as well as to expand our detection to semantic concepts.



Name: Nicki Swann
Sponsor: Adam Aron
Project Title: Cognitive neuroscience studies of a brain network for inhibitory control
Email address:

Nicki grew up in Austin, Texas and then completed her undergraduate degree at UC Berkeley where she double majored in Molecular and Cellular Biology (with neurobiology emphasis) and Psychology.  In her free time she loves to surf, swim, and volunteers at the San Diego animal shelter walking dogs.

At UCSD Nicki is in the neuroscience graduate student in Adam Aron's lab.  Nicki studies cognitive control using intracranial EEG, EEG, and Deep brain stimulation in patient populations.



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