Recent News

Tadin named interim dean of the School of Arts & Sciences

July 10, 2024

Duje Tadin profile

Duje Tadin, chair of the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences (BCS), has been named interim dean of the School of Arts & Sciences. In this role—a position he also held in summer 2023, just before Nicole Sampson began as dean—Tadin will assume oversight of the school’s 19 departments and numerous centers, institutes, and programs in the arts, humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences.

Continue Reading

Hearing, balance & the brain

April 25, 2024

Samuel Norman-Haignere, PhD, (right) and Dana Boebinger, PhD, postdoctoral fellow, work together in the lab. The Norman-Haignere lab collaborates with neurosurgeons and neurologists in the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit at the Medical Center to work with patients who are in the hospital to have their brain activity monitored to localize seizures. The willing patients listen to sounds like speech and music, as well as simpler sounds like tones and noise. “We can monitor how their brain responds to the sounds,” said Boeginer. “It is an incredibly rare opportunity to record neural activity from inside the human brain.”
Samuel Norman-Haignere, PhD, (right) and Dana Boebinger, PhD, postdoctoral fellow, work together in the lab.

It is not much bigger than a dime. Made up of a meticulous maze of anatomic loops and tubes, hair cells and neurons, and other signaling mechanisms, the ear and vestibular system take in information about the world around us and deliver it to the brain quickly. It is a system that is full of mystery, leaving much for science to explore and explain. However, it is well understood that it does not age gracefully—for adults aged 75 and older, imbalance is the number one cause of doctor visits, and 40 percent experience hearing loss.

Continue Reading

Why do we blink so much?

April 19, 2024

Close up of a woman's eyes and mid-face looking off camera to illustrate why eye blinking is important in humans
BLINK AND YOU MISS IT? Not so, according to new research conducted by University of Rochester scientists. (Unsplash photo)

Researchers find that blinking plays a pivotal role in processing visual information—adding to a growing body of evidence revising our conventional views of vision.

Continue Reading

URMC Selected for NIH Initiative to Map Connections in the Brain

September 26, 2023

Scientists at the University of Rochester Medical Center are joining research teams across the globe to develop next-generation tools for visualizing connections in the human brain. Imaging and understanding the brain’s intricate circuitry at the cellular and microscopic level will advance new approaches to treat brain disorders like Tourette’s syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Continue Reading

Pathway program proves access can cultivate scientists

September 11, 2023

Jose Reynoso works with his NEUROCITY mentor Duje Tadin, PhD, chair of the Brain and Cognitive Sciences Department, and a study subject in his lab in Meliora Hall. // photo by J. Adam Fenster / University of Rochester
Jose Reynoso works with his NEUROCITY mentor Duje Tadin, PhD, chair of the Brain and Cognitive Sciences Department, and a study subject in his lab in Meliora Hall. // photo by J. Adam Fenster / University of Rochester

In the summer of 2021, the Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience Diversity Commission and the City College of New York launched the partnership program NEUROCITY. Using the Summer Scholars Program at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry as a model, organizers created a program that has, to date, put nearly 30 undergraduate students from historically marginalized backgrounds in research labs across the University of Rochester and University of Rochester Medical Center campuses.

Continue Reading

Research finds prediction may be key to eye-and-hand coordination

June 5, 2023

Hand trying to catch phone falling into toliet

Have you ever made a great catch—like saving a phone from dropping into a toilet or catching an indoor cat from running outside? Those skills—the ability to grab a moving object—takes precise interactions within and between our visual and motor systems. Researchers at the Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience at the University of Rochester have found that the ability to visually predict movement may be an important part of the ability to make a great catch—or grab a moving object.

Continue Reading

Small, involuntary eye movements help us see a stable world

February 23, 2023

Close-up view of the eye
Our eyes are always moving, even when we are fixated on an image. “The human brain has a very precise knowledge of how the eyes move, even if humans are not aware of moving them, and they use this knowledge to infer spatial relations and perceive the world not as blurry but as stable,” says Rochester researcher Michele Rucci. (Getty Images photo / Carmelo Geraci)

Scientists have long sought to understand how we humans can perceive the world as stable as our eyes are constantly moving. Past research has suggested that, in the intervals between voluntary gaze shifts, the human visual system builds a picture of a stable world by relying solely on sensory inputs from fixational eye movements. According to new research by a team at the University of Rochester, however, there may be another contributing factor.

Continue Reading

Brain’s cognitive bias dominates in fantasy sports

September 13, 2022

football brain illustration
A cognitive bias is mental process that can lead to illogical and irrational decisions, which can be a problem for fantasy sports players, explains Rochester researcher Renee Miller. (University of Rochester illustration / Sarah Mossey)

Renee Miller has participated in fantasy football since 2006. But it wasn’t until the fall of 2012 that Miller, a professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester, realized she could combine her expertise in neuroscience with her love of fantasy sports.

Continue Reading

What Babies Hear When You Sing to Them

September 2, 2022

Elise Piazza profile

From The Atlantic: “Babies are pattern detectors,” says Elise Piazza, a University of Rochester professor who has studied early-childhood communication through language and music. Piazza told me that singing creates a feedback loop, where a baby’s enjoyment motivates parents to sing more and builds parents’ confidence.

Continue Reading

CAREER awards recognize role models in research, education

August 31, 2022

Ralf Haefner profile

Six Rochester researchers, including BCS professor Ralf Haefner, have received prestigious NSF awards for early-career faculty members. The awards, NSF’s most esteemed recognition for early-career faculty members, provide recipients with five years of funding to help lay the foundation for their future research.

Continue Reading

Sensory processing—in a virtual Kodak Hall

June 21, 2022

A dummy head equipped with microphone
A dummy head equipped with microphones in each ear and an additional one on top is among the equipment that a multidisciplinary team at the University of Rochester has set up to create a virtual reality replica of Kodak Hall. Duje Tadin, an associate professor of brain and cognitive sciences, will use the replica in studies of how the brain processes light and sound. Tadin's initial study will focus on multisensory integration in people with autism. (University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

A cross-disciplinary team of researchers from the University of Rochester is collaborating on a project to use virtual reality (VR) to study how humans combine and process light and sound. The first project will be a study of multisensory integration in autism, motivated by prior work showing that children with autism have atypical multisensory processing.

Continue Reading

How the brain interprets motion while in motion

June 13, 2022

Woman waiting for a train
(Getty Images)

In a new paper published in the journal eLife, researchers at the University of Rochester, including Greg DeAngelis, the George Eastman Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, and his colleagues at Sungkyunkwan University and New York University, describe a novel neural mechanism involved in causal inference that helps the brain detect object motion during self-motion.

Continue Reading

Brief period of ‘blindness’ is essential for vision

November 19, 2021

Eye seen through a telescope
We need to constantly shift our gaze to allow the foveola, a small region at the center of the retina, to get a full view of the world, similar to rotating a telescope to get a full view of a scene. Unlike when we might rotate a telescope, however, our eyes make most of these gaze shifts, especially the smallest ones, on their own, often beneath our awareness. By studying how a type of fixational eye movement called a microsaccade affects the foveola, Rochester researchers provide important foundational information that can lead to improved treatments and therapies for vision impairments. (Getty Images photo)

In a new paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers at the University of Rochester, including Michele Rucci, a professor of brain and cognitive sciences, and Janis Intoy, a postdoctoral research associate in Rucci’s lab, further cement the evidence for the important role of these tiny movements.

Continue Reading

Curtis Award spotlights PhD teaching assistants’ ‘amazing’ efforts during the pandemic

October 14, 2021

2021 Curtis Award Recipients
Clockwise from left, Kendall DeBoer, PhD candidate in visual and cultural studies; Michael Ormsbee, PhD candidate in English; Ashley Clark, PhD candidate in brain and cognitive sciences; and Alice Wynd, PhD candidate in history. The four doctoral students are this year’s recipients of the Edward Peck Curtis Award for Excellence in Teaching by a Graduate Student.

The four University of Rochester recipients of this year’s Edward Peck Curtis Award for Excellence in Teaching by a Graduate Student come from different disciplines. But they have several things in common.

Continue Reading

Lab access: Diversifying the bench

August 18, 2021

NEUROCITY participants in Haptics Lab

“Science is nature’s art,” Mariana Espinosa-Polanco said. The art and psychiatry major is a rising senior at The City College New York (CCNY) and one of the eight scholars in the inaugural class of NEUROCITY. “I graduate in December and plan to continue to pursue science because of this experience.”

Continue Reading

New program puts students from CCNY in neuroscience labs this summer

July 26, 2021

CCNY student working in NSC lab

The Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience Diversity Commission (NDC) is working to create a pipeline for underrepresented minorities interested in pursuing neuroscience research. Eight undergraduate students from City College of New York (CCNY) are living and working at the University of Rochester this summer as part of a new program called NEUROCITY. NEUROCITY is a partnership between the University and City College New York.

Continue Reading

Pipeline program lets East High students experience life in the lab

June 30, 2021

High school student practices soldering to repair an experiment component
(University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

Lulu Abdullahi (right), a junior at East High School in the Rochester City School District, practices soldering to repair an experiment component with Manuel Gomez-Ramirez, an assistant professor in the University’s Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences. For six weeks, Abdullahi and a classmate visited the River Campus as part of NeURo East, a Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience program that gives underrepresented high school students access to scientific research experiences in an academic setting. In the fall, the program will expand to six students who will rotate through multiple Rochester labs during the academic year.

Continue Reading

Congratulations to Martina Poletti, Recipient of the 2021 Elsevier/VSS Young Investigator Award

March 25, 2021

Martina Poletti Profile

VSS is pleased to present the 2021 Young Investigator Award to Martina Poletti. Dr. Poletti is an assistant professor in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the University of Rochester. She is recognized for fundamental contributions to our understanding of eye movements, microsaccades, and the nature of visual-motor function and attention within the foveola. She received her Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree at the University of Padova, and completed her doctoral and postdoctoral work at Boston University.

Continue Reading

More than words: Using AI to map how the brain understands sentences

March 22, 2021

Kitten on toy car
Say what you see in this picture out loud - "The cat ran over the car." A.I. is helping researchers unlock how your brain knows that sentence is different than - "The car ran over the cat."

Have you ever wondered why you are able to hear a sentence and understand its meaning – given that the same words in a different order would have an entirely different meaning? New research involving neuroimaging and A.I., describes the complex network within the brain that comprehends the meaning of a spoken sentence.

Continue Reading

Study: Neurons can shift how they process information about motion

June 15, 2020

women playing soccer
New Rochester research indicates that brain cells can shift how they process the motion of objects and other aspects of the environment as people themselves move in the world. (Getty Images)

New Rochester research indicates some neurons may be more adept than previously thought in helping you perceive the motion of objects while you move through the world.

Continue Reading

‘Time is vision’ after a stroke

May 27, 2020

vision experiment in Huxlin lab
A research team including professor of ophthalmology Krystel Huxlin (right, in a 2019 photo) provided stroke patients with a form of physical therapy for the visual system using a device Huxlin developed. (University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

A person who has a stroke that causes vision loss is often told there is nothing they can do to improve or regain the vision they have lost.

Continue Reading

Q & A with Adam Snyder, Ph.D.

April 24, 2020

Adam Snyder

Adam Snyder, Ph.D., joined the Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience in July 2018 as an assistant professor in Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Neuroscience, and the Center for Visual Science. He received his B.A. in Language and Mind from New York University and went on to complete his Ph.D. in Cognitive Neuroscience from the City College of New York. His research focuses primarily on vision, visual attention and memory.

Continue Reading

Adam Snyder named a 2020 Sloan Research Fellow

February 12, 2020

Adam Snyder

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is pleased to announce the selection of 126 extraordinary early career researchers as recipients of the 2020 Sloan Research Fellowships. Awarded annually since 1955, the fellowships honor scholars in the U.S. and Canada whose creativity, leadership, and independent research achievements make them some of the most promising researchers working today.

Continue Reading

Small eye movements are critical for 20/20 vision

February 10, 2020

Michele Rucci in lab
Michele Rucci, professor of brain and cognitive sciences, with equipment he uses to study small movements that a person is not even aware of making. These movements, once thought to be inconsequential, are critical to the visual system in helping us reconstruct a scene. (University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

Researchers previously assumed that visual acuity was primarily determined by the optics of the eye and the anatomy of the retina. Now, researchers from the University of Rochester—including Michele Rucci, a professor of brain and cognitive sciences, and Janis Intoy, a neuroscience graduate student at Boston University and a research assistant in Rucci’s lab in Rochester—show that small eye movements humans aren’t even aware of making play a large role in humans’ visual acuity. The research, published in the journal Nature Communications, may lead to improved treatments and therapies for vision impairments.

Continue Reading

Q&A with Farran Briggs, Ph.D.

January 29, 2020

Farran Briggs

Farran Briggs, Ph.D., joined the Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience in 2017 as an associate professor in the Departments of Neuroscience, Brain and Cognitive Sciences, and the Center for Visual Sciences. She received her B.A. in Biology from Dartmouth College and Ph.D. in Biology from the University of California, San Diego. Her work focuses on neuronal circuits in the visual system, and how attention affects the brain’s ability to process visual information.

Continue Reading

New training in AR/VR tech gives Rochester doctoral students an edge

September 18, 2019

Virtual reality training
Biomedical engineering graduate student Tom Stoll, right, adjusts a virtual reality head-mounted display on assistant professor Ross Maddox. The array of speakers in Maddox's lab allows researchers to simulate realistic listening environments. (University photo / J. Adam Fenster)

A $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation will provide additional impetus to a University of Rochester initiative applying augmented and virtual reality in health, education, product design, remote communication, entertainment, and other fields.

Continue Reading

Q&A with Manuel Gomez-Ramirez, Ph.D.

September 6, 2019

Manuel Gomez-Ramirez

This summer, Manuel Gomez-Ramirez arrived from Brown University to join the University of Rochester (UR) as an assistant professor in the Departments of Brain and Cognitive Sciences (BCS) and Neuroscience. His Haptic Perception Lab will focus on developing mechanistic models of how objects are perceived and manipulated with our hands, with the ultimate goal of using these models to optimize neural stimulation strategies for brain-computer interfaces and neuroprosthetics. We sat down with Manny, the guitar-playing, cocktail-making neuroscientist, to talk about what he’s most looking forward to at UR.

Continue Reading

Why can we see moving objects against their backgrounds?

July 2, 2019

Animals camouflaged against their background, like this Florida leopard frog, become easier to detect once they start moving. New research from Rochester scientists explores why human beings are good at discerning moving objects and how we can train our brains to be better at this as we age. (University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

According to new research from scientists at the University of Rochester, one reason human beings are good at discerning smaller moving objects in the foreground is that the brain becomes desensitized to the motion in the larger background. Conversely, when a person’s brain is more sensitive to background motion, the negative trade-off is that she will be less sensitive to smaller foreground objects. The research, published in the journal Nature Communications, could lead to new training programs for elderly adults and patients with conditions such as schizophrenia, which has been linked to weaker motion segregation.

Continue Reading

Brain stimulation helps patients with vision loss re-learn how to see

May 28, 2019

Krystel Huxlin, the James V. Aquavella, M.D. Professor in Ophthalmology at the University’s Flaum Eye Institute, is among the lead authors in a new study that shows how brain stimulation can enhance a patient's ability to re-train their brains to process visual information after a stroke or an injury. (University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

Practice results in better learning. Consider learning a musical instrument, for example: the more one practices, the better one will be able to learn to play. The same holds true for cognition and visual perception: with practice, a person can learn to see better—and this is the case for both healthy adults and patients who experience vision loss because of a traumatic brain injury or stroke.

Continue Reading

2019 BCS University Research Award Winners

May 16, 2019

Briggs, Mitchell, Rucci head shots

Congratulations to Farran Briggs, Jude Mitchell, and Michele Rucci, who were all 2019 recipients of University Research Awards (URA).  Originally called Provost’s Multidisciplinary Awards, the University Research Awards (URA) provide "seed" grants for promising, high-risk projects, says Robert Clark, provost and senior vice president for research.

Continue Reading

Microscopic eye movements affect how we see contrast

January 22, 2019

Michele Rucci

It is often difficult for a driver to see a person walking on the side of the road at night—especially if the person is wearing dark colors. One of the factors causing this difficulty is a decrease in contrast, making it hard to segment an object, such as a person, from its background.

Continue Reading

The science of seeing art and color

December 13, 2018

MAG Monet Exhibit

During three trips to London at the turn of the 20th century, Claude Monet painted more than 40 versions of a single scene: the Waterloo Bridge over the Thames River. Monet’s main subject was not the bridge itself, however; he was most captivated by the landscape and atmosphere of the scene, with its transitory light, fog, and mist.

Continue Reading

Attention Requires Balance in the Brain

October 29, 2018

Girl focus

The ability to focus attention is a fundamental challenge that the brain must solve and one that is essential to navigating our daily lives. In developmental disorders such as Autism this ability is impaired. New research published in the journal Nature Communications shows that nerve cells maintain a state of balance when preparing to interpret what we see and this may explain why the healthy brain can block out distractions.

Continue Reading