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Senior Investigator

Leslie G. Ungerleider, Ph.D.

Laboratory of Brain & Cognition
Building 10 Room 4C104
10 Center Drive MSC1366
Bethesda MD 20892-1366
Office: (301) 435-4932

Fax: (301) 402-0921

Dr. Ungerleider received her B.A. degree from the State University of New York at Binghamton and her Ph.D. degree, with a major in Experimental Psychology, from New York University. During her postdoctoral training with Karl Pribram at Stanford University, she began her work on higher-order perceptual mechanisms in the cortex of primates. She moved to the NIMH in 1975, joining Mortimer Mishkin in the Laboratory of Neuropsychology. Their neurobehavioral work inspired their theory of 'two cortical visual systems', one specialized for object recognition and another for visuospatial perception. In 1995, Dr. Ungerleider became Chief of the Laboratory of Brain and Cognition at NIMH. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2001, she was the recipient of the Women in Neuroscience Lifetime Achievement Award and in 2008 she became an NIH Distinguished Investigator.

Dr. Ungerleider's Section has long been devoted to establishing the links between neural structure and cognitive function, especially in the visual modality. Most of her early work focused on anatomical tracing techniques in macaque monkeys in order to delineate the areas that comprise visual association cortex and their interconnections. By the mid-1990s, she and others had succeeded in mapping much of the monkey extrastriate visual cortex and had outlined some of the major functional systems. With the basic anatomical data in hand, she then addressed more functional questions, including: 1) behavioral assessment of selective brain lesions in the cortical areas she had previously mapped; and 2) physiological recordings of neural activity in awake, behaving monkeys. With the advent of functional brain imaging in humans, she also began brain imaging studies of human cortex, using first PET and then fMRI. The monkey work has guided many of her hypotheses in the human imaging studies, and findings from the imaging studies have provided a broader, systems-level picture than could have been derived from the monkey work alone. Dr. Ungerleider has recently expanded her monkey program to include monkey fMRI in order to expand upon the parallel studies in humans and monkeys for which her lab is recognized.

Her work on visual attention has shown that in a typical scene many different objects compete for neural representation due to the limited processing capacity of the visual system. The competition among multiple objects can be biased by both bottom-up sensory-driven mechanisms and top-down influences, such as selective attention. Although the competition among stimuli is ultimately resolved within visual cortex, the source of top-down biasing signals derives from a distributed network of frontal and parietal areas. This biased competition model of attention suggests that once attentional resources are depleted, no further processing is possible. Dr. Ungerleider's more recent work has shown that, similar to the processing of other stimulus categories, the processing of stimuli with emotional valence is under top-down control, requiring attentional resources.

Clinical Protocol

  • Comparing fMRI and Neuronal Activity in the Awake Behaving Monkey ( ASP LN-22 )

  • Regional Cerebral Blood Flow Studies of Object Perception, Identification, Localization, and Memory ( 93-M-0170 )

Staff Image
  • Kandy Bahadur
    Postbaccalaureate IRTA

  • Fern Baldwin
    Postbaccalaureate IRTA

  • Andrew Bell, Ph.D.
    Visiting Fellow

  • Tracy Doty, Ph.D.
    Special Volunteer

  • James Ellis
    Postbaccalaureate IRTA

  • Stacia Friedman-Hill, Ph.D.
    Special Volunteer

  • Adam Greenberg, M.S.

  • Fadila Hadj-Bouziane, Ph.D.
    Visiting Fellow

  • Kathleen Hansen, Ph.D.
    IRTA Fellow

  • Sarah Hillenbrand
    Postbaccalaureate IRTA

  • Shruti Japee, Ph.D.
    Staff Scientist

  • Kartik Kesavabhotla
    Postbaccalaureate IRTA

  • Ning Liu, Ph.D.
    Visiting Fellow

  • Nick Malecek
    Postbaccalaureate IRTA

  • Adam Messinger, Ph.D.
    Staff Scientist

  • Ikuko Mukai, Ph.D.
    IRTA Fellow

  • Daniel Muldrew
    Technical IRTA

  • Roger Tootell, Ph.D.
    Adjunct Investigator

  • William Vinje, Ph.D.
    Research Fellow

  • 1) Ungerleider, L.G., Galkin, T.W., Desimone, R., and Gattass, R. (2008)
  • Cortical connections of area V4 in the macaque.
  • Cerebral Cortex , 18, 477-499
  • 2) Tootell, R.B.H., Devaney, K.J., Young, J.C., Postelnicu, G., Rajimehr, R., and Ungerleider, L.G. (2008)
  • fMRI mapping of a morphed continuum of 3D shapes within inferiortemporal cortex.
  • Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA , 105, 3605-3609
  • 3) Hadj-Bouziane, F., Bell, A.H., Knusten, T.A., Ungerleider, L.G., and Tootell, R.B.H. (2008)
  • Perception of emotional expression activates regions independent of face selectivity in monkey inferior temporal cortex: a fMRI study.
  • Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 105, 5591-5596
  • 4) Rossi, A.F., Bichot, N.P., Desimone, R., and Ungerleider, L.G. (2007)
  • Top-down attentional deficits in macaques with lesions of lateral prefrontal cortex.
  • J. Neurosci. , 27, 11306-11314
  • 5) Mukai, I., Kim, D., Fukunaga, M., Japee, S., Marrett, S., and Ungerleider, L.G. (2007)
  • Activations in visual and attention-related areas predict and correlate with the degree of perceptual learning.
  • J. Neurosci. , 27, 11401-11411
  • 6) Heekeren, H.R., Marrett, S., Ruff, D.A., Bandettini, P.A., and Ungerleider, L.G. (2006)
  • Involvement of left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex in perceptual decision-making is independent of response modality.
  • Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA , 103, 1023-1028
  • 7) Pessoa, L., Japee, S., Sturman, D.., and Ungerleider, L.G. (2006)
  • Target visibility and visual awareness modulate amygdala responses to fearful faces.
  • Cerebral Cortex , 16, 366-375
  • 8) Pessoa, L., Japee, S., and Ungerleider, L.G. (2005)
  • Visual awareness and the detection of fearful faces.
  • Emotion, 5, 243-247
  • 9) Van Boven, R.W., Ingeholm, J.E., Beauchamp, M.S., Bikle, P.C., and Ungerleider, L.G. (2005)
  • Tactile form and location processing in the human brain.
  • Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA , 102, 12601-12605
  • 10) Heekeren, H.R., Marrett, S., Bandettini, P.A., and Ungerleider, L.G. (2004)
  • A general mechanism for perceptual decision-making in the human brain.
  • Nature , 431, 859-562
  • 11) Ishai, A., Pessoa, L., Bikle, P.C., and Ungerleider, L.G. (2004)
  • Repetition suppression to faces is modulated by emotion.
  • Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA , 101, 9827-9832
  • 12) Pessoa, L. and Ungerleider, L.G. (2004)
  • .: Neural correlates of change detection and change blindness in a working memory task.
  • Cerebral Cortex , 14, 511-520
  • 13) Friedman-Hill, S., Robertson, L.C., Desimone, R., and Ungerleider, L.G. (2003)
  • .: Posterior parietal cortex and the filtering of distractors.
  • Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA , 100, 4263-4268
  • 14) Doyon, J. Song, A.W., Karni, A., Lalonde, F. Adams, M.M. and Ungerleider, L.G. (2002)
  • Experience-dependent changes in cerebellar contributions to motor sequence learning.
  • Proc. Natl Acad. Sci USA , 99, 1017-1022
  • 15) Pessoa, L., Gutierrez, E., Bandettini, P.A., and Ungerleider, L.G, (2002)
  • correlates of visual working memory: fMRI amplitude predicts task performance.
  • Neuron , 35, 975-987
  • 16) Pessoa, L., McKenna, M., Gutierrez, E. and Ungerleider, L.G. (2002)
  • Neural processing of emotional faces requires attention.
  • Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci, USA , 99, 11458-11463
  • 17) Rossi, A.F., Desimone, R., and Ungerleider, L.G. (2001)
  • Contextual modulation of primary visual cortex in macaques.
  • J. Neurosci. , 21, 1698-1709
  • 18) Adams, M.M., Hof, P.R., Gattass, R., Webster, M.J. and Ungerleider, L.G. (2000)
  • Visual cortical projections and chemoarchitecture of macaque monkey pulvinar.
  • J. Comp. Neurol. , 419, 377-393
  • 19) Jiang, Y., Haxby, J.V., Martin, A., Ungerleider, L.G., and Parasuraman, R. (2000)
  • Complementary neural mechanisms for tracking items in human working memory.
  • Science , 287, 643-646
  • 20) Ishai, A., Ungerleider, L.G., Haxby, J.V. (2000)
  • Distributed neural systems for the generation of visual images.
  • Neuron , 28, 379-390
  • 21) De Weerd, P., Peralta III, M. R., Desimone, R., and Ungerleider, L.G (1999)
  • Loss of attentional stimulus selectivity after extrastriate cortical lesions in macaques.
  • Nature Neurosci, 2, 753-758
  • 22) Kastner, S., Pinsk, M.A., De Weerd, P., Desimone, R., and Ungerleider. L. G. (1999)
  • Increased activity in human visual cortex during directed attention in the absence of visual stimulation.
  • Neuron, 22, 751-761
  • 23) Haxby, J.V., Ungerleider, L.G., Clark, V.P., Schouten, J.L., Hoffman, E.A., and Martin, A. (1999)
  • The effect of face inversion on activity in human neural systems for face and object perception.
  • Neuron , 22, 189-199
  • 24) Ishai, A., Ungerleider, L.G., Martin, A., Schouten, J.L., and Haxby, J.V. (1999)
  • Distributed representation of objects in the human ventral visual pathway.
  • Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA , 96, 9379-9384
  • 25) Kastner, S., De Weerd, P., Desimone, R. and Ungerleider, L.G. (1998)
  • Mechanisms of directed attention in human extrastriate cortex as revealed by functional MRI.
  • Science, 282, 108-111
  • 26) Courtney, S. M., Petit, L., Ungerleider, L. G., and Haxby, J. V. (1998)
  • An area specialized for spatial working memory in human frontal cortex.
  • Science , 279, 1347-1351
  • 27) Courtney, S. M., Ungerleider, L. G., Keil, K., and Haxby, J.V. (1997)
  • Transient and sustained activity in a distributed neural system for human working memory.
  • Nature , 386, 608-611
  • 28) Gattass, R., Sousa, A. P. B., Mishkin, M. and Ungerleider, L.G. (1997)
  • Cortical projections of area V2 in the macaque.
  • Cerebral Cortex , 7, 110-129
  • 29) Karni, A., Meyer, G., Jezzard, P., Adams, M. M., Turner, R., and Ungerleider, L. G. (1995)
  • Functional MRI evidence for adult motor cortex plasticity during motor skill learning.
  • Nature , 377, 155-158
  • 30) Martin, A., Haxby, J. V., Lalonde, F. M., Wiggs, C. L., and Ungerleider, L. G. (1995)
  • Discrete cortical regions mediate knowledge of colors and knowledge of actions.
  • Science , 270, 102-105
  • 31) Ungerleider, L. G. (1995)
  • Functional brain imaging studies of cortical mechanisms for memory.
  • Science, 270, 769-775
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