Mark S. Cohen

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Mark S. Cohen
Born Mark Steven Cohen
1956 (age 61–62)
Saint Paul, Minnesota
Residence Calabasas, California
Nationality American
Alma mater Stanford University
Rockefeller University
Scientific career
Fields Imaging, neuroimaging, neuroscience, physics, MRI technology, cognition, electrophysiology, fMRI, ultra-low field MRI, machine learning, real-time fMRI
Institutions UCLA (professor)
Thesis Cutaneous and supraspinal control of the axial muscles in the rat: Implications for behavior (spinal cord, reflex, lordosis, pudendal nerve) (1985)
Doctoral students Sam Harris

Mark Steven Cohen (born 1956) is an American neuroscientist and early pioneer of functional brain imaging using magnetic resonance imaging. He currently is a Professor of Psychiatry, Neurology, Radiology, Psychology, Biomedical Physics and Biomedical Engineering at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Behavior and the Staglin Center for Cognitive Neuroscience. He is also a performing musician.


Mark Cohen was born in Saint Paul, Minnesota. He was raised in Stanford, California. Cohen did his undergraduate studies at both the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University, where he received his bachelor's degree in Human Biology. He then went to the Rockefeller University where he trained under Victor Wilson, Donald Pfaff and Susan Schwartz Giblin, receiving his Ph.D. in 1985 for his work on the pudendal nerve evoked response and its modulation by steroid hormones.

In 1985 Cohen joined the MRI Applications Group at Siemens Healthcare where he began a career in MRI focused originally on education, and on technological improvements to reduce scan times. From 1988 to 1990 he directed the applications program at Advanced NMR Systems in Woburn Massachusetts, a small startup dedicated to the creation of a practical echo planar imaging instrument. He joined the faculty at Harvard/Massachusetts General Hospital in 1990 where he directed the "Hyperscan" fast imaging laboratory, and the MRI education program until 1993. Since 1993 he has been at UCLA, where he developed with John Mazziotta the first dedicated functional MRI imaging center.[1]

Academic research[edit]

Professor Cohen's significant achievements in MRI include the earliest clinical uses of echo-planar imaging, defining the safe boundaries of operation of high-end MRI units. While at Advanced NMR Systems he partnered with Jack Belliveau and others to create the first functional images of the human brain by MRI,[2] using the ultra-fast instrument he and his collaborators created. The latter work appeared in Science as cover art, using a now canonical image that Cohen created. After moving to Harvard he went on to play a crucial role in the second major advanced in functional MRI that resulted in Kenneth Kwong's seminal paper[3] (in the same year that Ogawa and colleagues submitted their results subsequently published a year later in PNAS)[4] that was a landmark in the field now known as Functional MRI or fMRI.

As a consequence of his original training in neurophysiology, was interested developing a practical means of recording brain electrical signals EEG simultaneously with fMRI. The method that he created was licensed to Electrical Geodesics, Inc. and sold as the GES300MR. With his student, Robin Goldman, he demonstrated strong functional associations between MRI and EEG signals.

His interests and publications span a broad range of topics including schizophrenia, mental imagery, biophysics, time perception, drug addiction, epilepsy, cardiac imaging and others. His current work concentrates heavily on the development and application of machine learning methods to the decoding of brain activity and the physiology of cognition.



Cohen is the Director of the UCLA/Semel NeuroImaging Training Program (NITP), a federally sponsored graduate and post-graduate educational program that seeks to bring advances in technology into the broad fields of neuroimaging. In addition to a traditional fellowship program, the NITP includes a two-week immersive workshop on advanced methods in functional MRI. Archived videos of these programs are available on the web.[6]


Mark Cohen has performed for many years on guitar, in classical, country-western, blues and jazz styles. He is better known, however, for his work on the pedal steel guitar. Cohen plays frequently with Albert Lee at private parties and appears on his record "Road Runner".


Mark Cohen has two children: Danielle Rosen and Max (Liana) Cohen.


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  2. ^ Belliveau JW, Kennedy DN, McKinstry RC, Buchbinder BR, Weisskoff RM, Cohen MS, Vevea JM, Brady TJ, Rosen BR (1991). "Functional mapping of the human visual cortex by magnetic resonance imaging". Science. 254 (5032): 716–719. doi:10.1126/science.1948051. PMID 1948051. 
  3. ^ KK Kwong, JW Belliveau, DA Chesler, IE Goldberg, RM Weisskoff, BP Poncelet, DN Kennedy, BE Hoppel, MS Cohen, R Turner, H Cheng, TJ Brady, and BR Rosen (1992). "Dynamic Magnetic Resonance Imaging of Human Brain Activity During Primary Sensory Stimulation". PNAS. 89 (12): 5951–55. doi:10.1073/pnas.89.12.5675. PMC 49355Freely accessible. PMID 1608978. 
  4. ^ S Ogawa, DW Tank, R Menon, JM Ellerman, SG Kim, H Merkle, K Ugurbil (1992). "Intrinsic signal changes accompanying sensory stimulation: Functional brain mapping with magnetic resonance imaging". PNAS. 89 (13): 5675–79. doi:10.1073/pnas.89.13.5951. PMC 402116Freely accessible. PMID 1631079. 
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