Cortical Functional Organization lab




Assistant: LiLi Lai

Research Interest: Cerebral cortex; Visual and perceptual neural mechanisms; touch; attention and cognition; Neurotechnology.

Key Word: Optical Imaging; UHF MRI; Electrophysiology; Non-Human primate (NHP); Optical Stimulation; Behavior.

“Reality is an illusion, albeit a persistent one.”– Albert Einstein


How does the functional organization of the brain produce perception, thought, and behavior? Dr. Anna Wang Roe studies the organization and connectivity of functional modules (roughly 200 um in size) in the cerebral cortex of nonhuman primates and how they underly visual (form, color/brightness, depth, and motion) and tactile (texture and shape) perception. Some of her studies have also examined the relationship of these modules to attention and memory. Her approach involves using implanted ‘windows on the brain’, vertical bore MRI machines, single and multielectrode recording arrays, anatomical tracing methods, and focal brain stimulation using optogenetics and near infrared lasers. Dr. Anna Wang Roe is very interested in technology development and brain-machine interfaces. This combined behavioral, functional, anatomical, and neuroengineering approach will lead to development of future mind-machine interfaces that modify and enhance function in normal and diseased states.

Dr. Roe is the Director of the Interdisciplinary Institute of Neuroscience and Technology at Zhejiang University (ZIINT), which she established in 2014. She is known for her studies in visual and somatosensory processing in primate cerebral cortex.  She obtained her B.A. degree in from Harvard University (1984) and her Ph.D. from MIT (1991). Her doctoral work on the 'rewired ferret' preparation is a well known paradigm for studying brain development and plasticity. In 1991, she joined the group of Torsten Wiesel at Rockefeller University. There, under the mentorship of Dr. Daniel Ts'o, she used intrinsic signal optical imaging methods to examine the functional organization of primary and second visual cortical areas in the primate (1991-1993) and continued these studies at Baylor College of Medicine (1993-1995). In 1996, she pursued studies in the marmoset and flying fox as a visiting scholar at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. In 1996, she began her first faculty position in the Department of Neurobiology at Yale University School of Medicine. From 2003-2015, she was a Professor of Psychology, Radiology, and Biomedical Engineering at Vanderbilt University.