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Senior Investigator

Elisabeth A. Murray, Ph.D.

Laboratory of Neuropsychology, NIMH
Building 49 Room IB80
49 Convent Drive MSC4415
Bethesda MD 20892-4415
Office: (301) 443-7401

Fax: (301) 402-0046

Dr. Murray received her B.S. in Biology from Bucknell University and her Ph.D. in Physiology from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, where she studied the organization of corticospinal neurons. After postdoctoral work at the NIMH with Mort Mishkin studying the neural substrates of tactual learning and memory, she became a Staff Fellow and then a tenured faculty member within the Laboratory of Neuropsychology, NIMH. Dr. Murray was awarded the Demuth Swiss Medical Research Foundation Award for Young Investigators in the Neurosciences and a PHS Special Recognition Award.

In 1996, Dr. Murray was appointed Chief, Section on the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, NIMH. In 2014, Dr. Murray became Chief of the Laboratory of Neuropsychology at NIMH. She is an elected Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science, the American Psychological Association, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Dr. Murray’s laboratory studies the neural basis of learning, memory, emotion and behavior, with two main areas of focus: memory systems and value-based decision-making. The research on memory systems has demonstrated that each of the cortical areas in the so-called “medial temporal lobe” perform distinct functions based on their specialized neural representations. For example, some types of memory depend on the entorhinal and perirhinal cortex and not on the hippocampus. Furthermore, contrary to the idea that some cortical areas specialize in memory, whereas others specialize in perception, evidence from the laboratory’s work has shown that each area’s specialized representations supports both memory and perception.

Studies of decision-making examine the neural circuits critical for valuations that guide the selection of objects and actions, including choices based on affective information and predicted rewards. This research examines the functional interactions among three components of the limbic system: the amygdala, orbitofrontal cortex and medial prefrontal cortex. Using behavioral analyses combined with structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging, single-unit recording, and both permanent and temporary brain manipulations, this work has shown that the amygdala and orbitofrontal cortex cooperate to update the subjective valuations that guide decision-making. Current work focuses on the selective contributions of different prefrontal cortical regions in promoting advantageous choices.

Staff Image
  • Dawn Anuszkiewicz-Lundgren, B.S.
    Research Assistant
    (301) 443-8630

  • Ping-Yu Chen, B.S.
    Research Assistant
    (301) 443-7681

  • Jaewon Hwang, Ph.D
    Staff Scientist
    (301) 451-3953

  • Pamela Noble, M.S., M.B.A.
    Research Assistant
    (301) 451-2195

  • Maya Wang, Ph.D.
    Visiting Fellow
    (301) 433-7479

  • Charday Long, B.S.
    Post baccalaureate Fellow

  • Spencer Waters, B.S.
    Post baccalaureate Fellow

  • Joseph Reyelts, B.S.
    Post baccalaureate Fellow

  • 1)Basile BM, Schafroth JL, Karaskiewicz CL, Chang SWC, Murray EA (2020)
  • The anterior cingulate cortex is necessary for forming prosocial preferences from vicarious reinforcement in monkeys.
  • PLoS Biol 18, e3000677.
  • 2)Murray EA, Rudebeck PH (2018).
  • Specializations for reward-guided decision-making in the primate ventral prefrontal cortex.
  • Nat Rev Neurosci 19, 404-417.
  • 3)Taubert J, Flessert M, Wardle SG, Basile BM, Murphy AP, Murray EA, Ungerleider LG (2018).
  • Amygdala lesions eliminate viewing preferences for faces in rhesus monkeys.
  • Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 115, 8043-8048.
  • 4)Rudebeck PH, Saunders RC, Lundgren DA, Murray EA (2017).
  • Specialized Representations of Value in the Orbital and Ventrolateral Prefrontal Cortex: Desirability versus Availability of Outcomes.
  • Neuron 95, 1208-1220.e5.
  • 5)Kaskan PM, Costa VD, Eaton HP, Zemskova JA, Mitz AR, Leopold DA, Ungerleider LG, Murray EA (2017).
  • Learned Value Shapes Responses to Objects in Frontal and Ventral Stream Networks in Macaque Monkeys.
  • Cereb Cortex27, 2739-2757.
  • 6) Murray EA, Wise SP, Drevets WC (2011)
  • Localization of dysfunction in major depressive disorder: prefrontal cortex and amygdala.
  • Biological Psychiatry, 69, e43-54
  • 7) Rudebeck PH, and Murray EA (2011)
  • Dissociable effects of subtotal lesions within the macaque orbital prefrontal cortex on reward-guided behavior
  • Journal of Neuroscience, 31, 10569-10578
  • 8) Murray EA, and Wise SP (2010)
  • Interactions between orbital prefrontal cortex and amygdala: Advanced cognition, learned responses and instinctive behaviors.
  • Current Opinion in Neurobiology, 20, 210-220
  • 9) Izquierdo A, and Murray EA (2010)
  • Functional interaction of medial mediodorsal thalamic nucleus but not nucleus accumbens with amygdala and orbital prefrontal cortex is essential for adaptive response selection after reinforcer devaluation.
  • Journal of Neuroscience, 30, 661-669
  • 10) Chudasama Y, Izquierdo A, and Murray EA (2009)
  • Distinct contributions of the amygdala and hippocampus to fear expression.
  • European Journal of Neuroscience, 30, 2327-2337
  • 11) Murray EA, Izquierdo A (2007)
  • Orbitofrontal cortex and amygdala contributions to affect and action
  • New York Academy of Sciences, 1121, 273-296
  • 12) Murray EA, Bussey TJ, and Saksida LM (2007)
  • Visual perception and memory: a new view of medial temporal lobe function in primates and rodents
  • Annual Review of Neuroscience, 30, 99-122
  • 13) Murray EA (2007)
  • The amygdala, reward and emotion.
  • Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 11, 489-497
  • 14) Brasted PJ, Bussey TJ, Murray EA, and Wise SP (2005)
  • Conditional motor learning in the nonspatial domain: effects of errorless learning and the contribution of the fornix to one-trial learning
  • Behav Neurosci, 119, 662-676
  • 15) Barense MD, Bussey TJ, Lee ACH, Rogers TT, Davies RR, Saksida LM, Murray EA, and Graham KS (2005)
  • Functional specialization in the human medial temporal lobe
  • J Neurosci, 25, 10239-10246
  • 16) Murray EA, and Wise SP (2004)
  • What, if anything, is the medial temporal lobe, and how can the amygdala be part of it if there is no such thing?
  • Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, 82, 178-198
  • 17) Baxter MG and Murray EA (2002)
  • The amygdala and reward
  • Nat Rev Neurosci, 3, 563-73
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