Marc A. Sommer

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

  • Professor of Biomedical Engineering
  • Associate Professor in Neurobiology
  • Associate Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience
  • Associate of the Duke Initiative for Science & Society

Contact Information

  • Office Location: 1427 Ciemas, Box 90281, 101 Science Dr., Durham, NC 27708
  • Office Phone: (919) 684-7015
  • Email Address: marc.sommer@duke.edu
  • Websites:

Education

  • Ph.D. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1995

Research Interests

Neuronal circuits of the brain, including 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.

Courses Taught

  • BME 493: Projects in Biomedical Engineering (GE)
  • BME 494: Projects in Biomedical Engineering (GE)
  • BME 517: Neuronal Control of Movement (GE, EL)
  • BME 601L: Introduction to Neural Engineering
  • BME 791: Graduate Independent Study
  • BME 792: Continuation of Graduate Independent Study
  • NEUROSCI 493: Research Independent Study 1
  • NEUROSCI 494: Research Independent Study 2
  • NEUROSCI 517: Neuronal Control of Movement (GE, EL)
  • NEUROSCI 755: Interdisciplinary Program in Cognitive Neuroscience (IPCN) Independent Research Rotation

In the News

Representative Publications

  • Subramanian, Divya, John M. Pearson, and Marc A. Sommer. “Bayesian and Discriminative Models for Active Visual Perception across Saccades.” ENeuro 10, no. 7 (July 2023). https://doi.org/10.1523/ENEURO.0403-22.2023.
  • Daw, Tierney B., Hala G. El-Nahal, Michele A. Basso, Elizabeth J. Jun, Alex R. Bautista, R Jude Samulski, Marc A. Sommer, and Martin O. Bohlen. “Direct Comparison of Epifluorescence and Immunostaining for Assessing Viral Mediated Gene Expression in the Primate Brain.” Human Gene Therapy 34, no. 5–6 (March 2023): 228–46. https://doi.org/10.1089/hum.2022.194.
  • Daw, Tierney B., Hala G. El-Nahal, Michele A. Basso, Elizabeth J. Jun, Alex R. Bautista, R Jude Samulski, Marc A. Sommer, and Martin O. Bohlen. “Direct comparison of epifluorescence and immunostaining for assessing viral mediated gene expression in the primate brain.” Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, October 7, 2022. https://doi.org/10.1101/2022.10.04.510807.
  • Goetz, Stefan M., Bryan Howell, Boshuo Wang, Zhongxi Li, Marc A. Sommer, Angel V. Peterchev, and Warren M. Grill. “Isolating two sources of variability of subcortical stimulation to quantify fluctuations of corticospinal tract excitability.” Clin Neurophysiol 138 (June 2022): 134–42. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clinph.2022.02.009.
  • Subramanian, Divya, John Pearson, and Marc Sommer. “Contributions of Bayesian and Discriminative Models to Active Visual Perception across Saccades.” BioRxiv, 2022. https://doi.org/10.1101/2022.06.22.497244.