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Colby, Carol

[Picture of Carol Colby] Professor, Neuroscience and the CNBC
University of Pittsburgh

Phone: (412) 268-7295
Fax: (412) 268-5060

Individual Website:

Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Research Interests

My interest is in how the cerebral cortex mediates cognitive experience. My current work focuses on spatial cognition in monkeys and humans. This is an appealing problem for two reasons. First, it encompasses a wide range of cognitive processes including perception, attention, short term memory and the generation of action. Each of these cognitive processes contributes to the construction of internal representations of space. Second, spatial cognition is a faculty shared by humans and nonhuman primates and can be usefully studied in each. In humans, I use functional imaging techniques to observe frontal and parietal cortex activation during visuospatial performance. In monkeys, recordings from individual cortical neurons reveal the specific aspects of information processing carried out by different types of neurons during spatial tasks.


My research has revealed that there are fundamental parallels between a subject's awareness of the environment and neural activity in parietal cortex. Parietal neurons encode not only the locations of visible stimuli but also the locations of anticipated and remembered stimuli. The key to parietal function is the recognition that it underlies visual attention. Moreover, it contains multiple representations of space, each of which is designed to serve distinct attentional and sensorimotor goals. Current research focuses on the mechanisms that produce these action-oriented spatial representations, as described in


Some of my publications can be found here.


Recent Publications

  • Dunn CA, Hall NJ, Colby CL:  Spatial Updating in Monkey Superior Colliculus in the Absence of the Forebrain Commissures: Dissociation between Superficial and Intermediate Layers.  J Neurophysiol, 2010.
  • Berman R, Colby C:  Attention and active vision.  Vision Res 49(10): 1233-48, 2009.
  • Melcher D, Colby CL:  Trans-saccadic perception.  Trends Cogn Sci 12(12): 466-73, 2008.
  • Merriam EP, Genovese CR, Colby CL: Remapping in human visual cortex. J Neurophys 97(2): 1738-55, 2007.
  • Berman RA, Heiser LM, Saunders RC, Colby CL: Dynamic circuitry for updating spatial representations. III. From neurons to behavior. J Neurophys 98(1): 105-21, 2007.
  • Merriam EP, Colby CL: Active vision in parietal and extrastriate cortex. Neuroscientist 11(5): 484-93, 2005.
  • Merriam EP, Genovese CR, Colby CL: Spatial updating in human parietal cortex. Neuron 39(2): 361-73, 2003.
  • Nakamura K, Colby CL: Updating of the visual representation in monkey striate and extrastriate cortex during saccades. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 99(6): 4026-31, 2002.