Anita Disney

Anita Disney

Assistant Professor of Neurobiology

External Address: 
311 Research Drive, Durham, NC 27710
Internal Office Address: 
DUMC Box 3209, Durham, NC 27710


The goal of the research in my lab is to determine the role(s) that neuromodulators play in cognition – and by what circuit mechanisms and over what spatial and temporal scales they subserve those functions. Our primary focus is on the noradrenergic, serotonergic and cholinergic systems in the neocortex. The techniques we employ are diverse: we use a biosensor that combines classical electrophysiological recording capabilities with the ability to measure the local chemical environment at high spatial and temporal resolution; we combine electrophysiological recording with pharmacological manipulation to examine causal relationships between neuromodulation, neuronal activity and behavioral performance; and we study the structure of neuromodulatory systems in the neocortex from a comparative perspective at both the light and electron microscopic levels.

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., New York University 2005

Selected Grants

Neurobiology Training Program awarded by National Institutes of Health (Mentor). 2019 to 2024

Hawken, Michael J., et al. “Functional Clusters of Neurons in Layer 6 of Macaque V1.J Neurosci, vol. 40, no. 12, Mar. 2020, pp. 2445–57. Pubmed, doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1394-19.2020. Full Text

Disney, Anita A., and Michael J. Higley. “Diverse Spatiotemporal Scales of Cholinergic Signaling in the Neocortex.J Neurosci, vol. 40, no. 4, Jan. 2020, pp. 720–25. Pubmed, doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1306-19.2019. Full Text

Disney, Anita A., and Jason S. Robert. “Translational implications of the anatomical nonequivalence of functionally equivalent cholinergic circuit motifs.Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, Dec. 2019. Pubmed, doi:10.1073/pnas.1902280116. Full Text

Krueger, Juliane, and Anita A. Disney. “Structure and function of dual-source cholinergic modulation in early vision.J Comp Neurol, vol. 527, no. 3, Feb. 2019, pp. 738–50. Pubmed, doi:10.1002/cne.24590. Full Text

MacDougall, Matthew, et al. “Optogenetic manipulation of neural circuits in awake marmosets.” Journal of Neurophysiology, vol. 116, no. 3, American Physiological Society, Sept. 2016, pp. 1286–94. Crossref, doi:10.1152/jn.00197.2016. Full Text

Disney, Anita A., and John H. Reynolds. “Expression of m1-type muscarinic acetylcholine receptors by parvalbumin-immunoreactive neurons in the primary visual cortex: A comparative study of rat, guinea pig, ferret, macaque, and human.” Journal of Comparative Neurology, vol. 522, no. 5, Wiley, Apr. 2014, pp. 986–1003. Crossref, doi:10.1002/cne.23456. Full Text

Disney, Anita A., et al. “Cholinergic suppression of visual responses in primate V1 is mediated by GABAergic inhibition.” Journal of Neurophysiology, vol. 108, no. 7, American Physiological Society, Oct. 2012, pp. 1907–23. Crossref, doi:10.1152/jn.00188.2012. Full Text

Disney, Anita A., et al. “Gain modulation by nicotine in macaque v1.Neuron, vol. 56, no. 4, Nov. 2007, pp. 701–13. Pubmed, doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2007.09.034. Full Text

Disney, Anita A., and Simon R. Schultz. “Hallucinations and acetylcholine: Signal or noise?Behavioral and Brain Sciences, vol. 27, no. 6, Cambridge University Press (CUP), Dec. 2004, pp. 790–91. Crossref, doi:10.1017/s0140525x0425018x. Full Text