Robert Desimone

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Robert Desimone is the director of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research and the Doris and Don Berkey Professor of Neuroscience at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The McGovern Institute was founded at MIT by Patrick Joseph McGovern and Lore Harp McGovern with a dual mission of conducting basic research on the mind and brain and applying that knowledge to help the many people suffering from brain disorders. Prior to joining the McGovern Institute in 2004, Robert Desimone was the director of intramural research at the National Institute of Mental Health. He is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences and American Academy of Arts and Sciences and is recognized for his research on the brain mechanisms that underlie visual perception, attention, and executive control.[1] At the McGovern Institute, he is promoting the development of systems neuroscience, novel neuroscience technologies, and the translation of basic research findings into new treatments that improve human health, including new approaches to brain disorders such as autism and schizophrenia.[2][3] He sits on the boards of directors of the three McGovern Institutes in China, at Peking University, Tsinghua University, and Beijing Normal University. At the Shenzhen Institute of Advanced Technology (SIAT), he and his colleagues Guoping Feng, Feng Zhang, and Liping Wang have started a center to create new animal genetic models for brain disorders.[4] In 2014 and 2015, Desimone was featured as an international guest judge on The Brain, a highly popular televised competition of unique mental skills in China.


As a graduate student at Princeton, Desimone and his thesis supervisor Charles Gross were the first to publish data that neurons that respond specifically to faces.[5][6] At NIMH, he described the physiological properties [7] of neurons in extrastriate visual cortex, and he and Leslie Ungerleider mapped the topographic organization and anatomical connections [8] of many new cortical visual areas. With Earl Miller, he first discovered a physiological basis for recency memory (repetition suppression) and working memory in inferior temporal cortex.[9] He reported the first evidence for the role of attention in modulating the neuronal properties of areas in the ventral stream,[10] and he and John Duncan proposed a Biased Competition Theory to explain many aspects of attention control.[11] With John Reynolds, he proposed a quantitative model of biased competition to explain the effects of attention on neurons, which is formally a normalization model.[12] With Pascal Fries, he first described the effects of attention on synchronized activity in extrastriate cortex,[13] and he later found that synchronized activity between extrastriate cortex and prefrontal cortex is a mechanistic feature of selective attention [14][15]


[Macalester College] BA; [Princeton University] Ph.D.


Golden Brain Award, 1994; Troland Research Awards, 1990


  1. ^ New Yorker, Attention, by Alan Lightman, Oct 1 2014
  2. ^ Brain Scan: Newsletter of the McGovern Institute for Brain research Issue no. 9 (Summer 2008)[1]
  3. ^ MIT Technology Review, A Turning Point, December 18, 2014
  4. ^ SIAT media report
  5. ^ J Neurophysiol. 1981 Aug;46(2):369-384
  6. ^ J Neurosci. 1984 2051-62
  7. ^ J. Neurophysiol. 1987 57(3):835-68
  8. ^ J Comp Neurol. 1986 248(2):164-89
  9. ^ Science. 1994 263(5146):520-2
  10. ^ Science. 1988 240(4850):338-40
  11. ^ Annu Rev Neurosci. 1995 18:193-222
  12. ^ J. Neurosci. 1999 19(5):1736-53
  13. ^ Science. 2001 291(5508):1560-3
  14. ^ Science. 2009 324(5931):1207-10
  15. ^ Science. 2014 344(6182):424-7.

External links[edit]