Marc A Sommer

Marc A. Sommer

Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering

We study circuits for cognition. Using a combination of neurophysiology and biomedical engineering, we focus on the interaction between brain areas during visual perception, decision-making, and motor planning. Specific projects include the role of frontal cortex in metacognition, the role of cerebellar-frontal circuits in action timing, the neural basis of "good enough" decision-making (satisficing), and the neural mechanisms of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).

Appointments and Affiliations

  • Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering
  • Associate Professor in Neurobiology
  • Member of the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Investigator in the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences
  • Director of Undergraduate Studies

Contact Information


  • Ph.D. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1995

Research Interests

Dr. Marc Sommer studies neuronal circuits of the brain. Research in his laboratory involves recording from single neurons and studying the effects of inactivating or stimulating well-defined brain areas. His goals are to understand how individual areas process signals and how multiple areas interact to cause cognition and behavior. Results from the work are guiding the design of vision-based models and robots.



Awards, Honors, and Distinctions

  • Sloan Research Fellowship-Neuroscience. Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. 2005

Courses Taught

  • BME 394: Projects in Biomedical Engineering (GE)
  • BME 493: Projects in Biomedical Engineering (GE)
  • BME 494: Projects in Biomedical Engineering (GE)
  • BME 517: Neuronal Control of Movement (GE, EL)
  • BME 790L: Advanced Topics with the Lab for Graduate Students in Biomedical Engineering
  • BME 791: Graduate Independent Study
  • ME 394: Engineering Undergraduate Fellows Projects
  • NEUROBIO 720C: Concepts in Neuroscience II - Sensory/Motor Integration
  • NEUROBIO 793: Research in Neurobiology
  • NEUROSCI 507: Neuronal Control of Movement (GE, EL)
  • NEUROSCI 755: Interdisciplinary Program in Cognitive Neuroscience (IPCN) Independent Research Rotation

Representative Publications

  • Rao, HM; San Juan, J; Shen, FY; Villa, JE; Rafie, KS; Sommer, MA, Neural network evidence for the coupling of presaccadic visual remapping to predictive eye position updating, Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience, vol In Press (2016) [10.3389/fncom.2016.00052] [abs].
  • Zielinski, DJ; Sommer, MA; Rao, HM; Appelbaum, LG; Potter, ND; Kopper, R, Evaluating the effects of image persistence on dynamic target acquisition in low frame rate virtual environments, 3D User Interfaces (3DUI), 2016 IEEE Symposium on (2016), pp. 133-140 [10.1109/3DUI.2016.7460043] [abs].
  • Oh, H; Beck, JM; Zhu, P; Sommer, MA; Ferrari, S; Egner, T, Satisficing in split-second decision making is characterized by strategic cue discounting, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, vol in press (2016) [abs].
  • Raghavan, RT; Prevosto, V; Sommer, MA, Contribution of cerebellar loops to action timing, Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, vol 8 (2016), pp. 28-34 [10.1016/j.cobeha.2016.01.008] [abs].
  • Caruso, VC; Pages, DS; Sommer, MA; Groh, JM, Similar prevalence and magnitude of auditory-evoked and visually-evoked activity in the frontal eye fields: implications for multisensory motor control., Journal of neurophysiology (2016) [abs].

Lectures and Invited Talks

  • New Faculty Lecture Series,