Marc A. Sommer

Image of 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 301L: Bioelectricity (AC or GE)
  • 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
  • BME 899: Special Readings in Biomedical Engineering
  • EGR 491: Projects in Engineering
  • ME 394: Engineering Undergraduate Fellows Projects
  • NEUROBIO 720C: Concepts in Neuroscience II - Sensory/Motor Integration
  • NEUROBIO 793: Research in Neurobiology
  • NEUROSCI 301L: Bioelectricity (AC or GE)
  • NEUROSCI 496: Research Independent Study 4
  • NEUROSCI 507: Neuronal Control of Movement (GE, EL)
  • NEUROSCI 755: Interdisciplinary Program in Cognitive Neuroscience (IPCN) Independent Research Rotation

Representative Publications: (More Publications)
    • Mayo, JP; DiTomasso, AR; Sommer, MA; Smith, MA, Dynamics of visual receptive fields in the macaque frontal eye field., Journal of neurophysiology (2015) [abs].
    • Zielinski, DJ; Rao, HM; Sommer, MA; Kopper, R, Exploring the effects of image persistence in low frame rate virtual environments, IEEE Virtual Reality 2015 (2015) [abs].
    • Matthews, WJ; Terhune, DB; van Rijn, H; Eagleman, DM; Sommer, MA; Meck, WA, Subjective Duration as a Signature of Coding Efficiency: Emerging Links Among Stimulus Repetition, Predictive Coding, and Cortical GABA Levels, Timing & Time Perception Reviews, vol 1 (2014) [abs].
    • Mitchell, AS; Sherman, SM; Sommer, MA; Mair, RG; Vertes, RP; Chudasama, Y, Advances in understanding mechanisms of thalamic relays in cognition and behavior., The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, vol 34 no. 46 (2014), pp. 15340-15346 [10.1523/jneurosci.3289-14.2014] [abs].
    • Mueller, JK; Grigsby, EM; Prevosto, V; Petraglia, FW; Rao, H; Deng, ZD; Peterchev, AV; Sommer, MA; Egner, T; Platt, ML; Grill, WM, Simultaneous transcranial magnetic stimulation and single-neuron recording in alert non-human primates., Nature Neuroscience, vol 17 no. 8 (2014), pp. 1130-1136 [10.1038/nn.3751] [abs].
Lectures and Invited Talks:
  • New Faculty Lecture Series,