Leonard White, Ph.D.

Photo of Leonard White

Phone: 919-613-5028

DIBS mailing address:
Box 91003
Durham, NC 27708

Duke DPT address:
DUMC Box 104002
Durham, NC 27708

Physical address:
Duke Institute for Brain Sciences
Levine Science Research Center, B123B
450 Research Drive
Durham NC 27708

Email: len DOT white AT duke DOT edu

Associate Professor

Duke Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development

Orthopaedic Surgery, Doctor of Physical Therapy Division, School of Medicine

DIBS Staff, DIBS Faculty

Research Description

One important goal of neuroscience is to understand the fundamental principles that shape the developing brain. To achieve this goal, it is necessary to characterize the interactions between sensorimotor behavior and genetically programmed mechanisms of brain development. This interplay between intrinsic and experience-dependent factors is most dynamic during early life, at a time of explosive increase in the numbers and complexity of neural connections. It is precisely this increase in neural capacity that makes possible the rich repertoire of behavior associated with functional maturity. My primary interest is to understand how sensorimotor experience in early life influences—for better or worse—the formation and maturation of functional neural circuits in the cerebral cortex. My collaborators and I believe that our studies are providing insight into the nature of normal brain development and the consequences of disrupting the partnership between intrinsic developmental mechanisms and early sensorimotor experience.


Ph.D. Washington University in St. Louis, Neural Biology, 1992

M.B.S., Oral Roberts University, Physiology, 1987

B.S., Oral Roberts University, Biology, 1985

Recent Publications

Van Hooser SD, Li Y, Christensson M, Smith GB, White LE, Fitzpatrick D (2012) Initial neighborhood biases and the quality of motion stimulation jointly influence the rapid emergence of direction preference in visual cortex. The Journal of Neuroscience 32:7258-7266.

Kaschube M, Schnabel M, Löwel S, Coppola DM, White LE, Wolf F (2010) Universality in the evolution of orientation columns in the visual cortex. Science 330:1113-116. [see also “Perspectives” article by K.D. Miller published concurrently: Science 330:1059-1060.]

Extra-hippocampal involvement in HHV6 encephalitis depicted on MR imaging. Provenzale, J.M., vanLandingham, K., Mukundan, S. & White, L.E. (2008). Radiology 249:955-963.

Research Areas

Research Topics

  • Sensory experience and brain development
  • Cortical maps
  • Human brain anatomy