Michael Shadlen


My commitment: Revealing the underpinnings of normal and abnormal thought processes, thereby exposing the causes of cognitive disorders such as schizophrenia and dementia

I study the brain’s parietal cortex, which when damaged by injury or illness, can impair higher brain functions, such as knowing what objects are for, understanding numbers, and planning action. These higher brain functions make a normal brain not confused: able to reason, prioritize, infer causes and consequences, assign authorship to one’s own thoughts, explore, avoid distractions, and engage with the environment.

My hypothesis is that we will recognize in 10 years that many disorders of higher brain function share a few common modes of failure. The ultimate payoff will come when we take these insights and combine them with molecular developments to devise therapies that don’t just treat the symptoms, but instead preserve or repair the underlying brain functions.