Marc A. Sommer

Marc A. Sommer

W. H. Gardner, Jr. Associate Professor

External Address: 
1427 Ciemas, Box 90281, 101 Science Dr., Durham, NC 27708
Internal Office Address: 
Duke Box 90281, Durham, NC 27708-0281


We study circuits for cognition. Using a combination of neurophysiology and biomedical engineering, we focus on the interaction between brain areas during visual perception, decision-making, and motor planning. Specific projects include the role of frontal cortex in metacognition, the role of cerebellar-frontal circuits in action timing, the neural basis of "good enough" decision-making (satisficing), and the neural mechanisms of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology 1995

Selected Grants

Enhancement, mapping, and validation of viral vectors for primate optogenetics awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2022 to 2026

Rational Design of TMS for Neuromodulation awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2020 to 2025

RNA-programmable cell type targeting and manipulation across vertebrate nervous systems awarded by National Institutes of Health (Co-Principal Investigator). 2021 to 2024

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

Theoretical and Physiological Basis of Priority Maps in the Frontal Eye Field awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2022 to 2024

Impact of Timing, Targeting, and Brain State on rTMS of Human and Non-Human Primates awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2017 to 2022

Psychophysics-Guided Signal Processing for Retinal Prosthetics awarded by National Institutes of Health (Co Investigator). 2018 to 2021

Neuromuscular Control of Primate Eye Movements awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2019 to 2021

Rational Design of TMS for Neuromodulation awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2014 to 2021

Neuronal Control of Eye Alignment awarded by Hartwell Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2017 to 2019


Abzug, Z. M., and M. A. Sommer. “Supplementary Eye Fields.” Reference Module in Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Psychology, Elevier, 2017. Open Access Copy

Middlebrooks, P. G., et al. “Studying metacognitive processes at the single-neuron level.” The Cognitive Neuroscience of Metacognition, edited by S. M. Fleming and C. D. Frith, Springer, 2014, pp. 225–44. Manual, doi:10.1007/978-3-642-45190-4_10. Full Text Open Access Copy

Crapse, T. B., and M. A. Sommer. “Corollary Discharge.” Encyclopedia of Perception, edited by R. B. Goldstein, SAGE Publications, 2009, pp. 325–27. Open Access Copy

Shin, S. Y., et al. “Visuomotor Integration.” Encyclopedia of Neuroscience, edited by M. D. Binder et al., Springer, 2009, pp. 4354–59. Open Access Copy

Sommer, M. A., and R. H. Wurtz. “Single Neurons and Primate Behavior.” Methods in Mind, edited by C. Senior et al., MIT Press, 2009, pp. 123–39. Open Access Copy

Sommer, M. A. “Supplementary eye fields.” Encyclopedia of Neuroscience, edited by L. R. Squire, Academic Press, 2009, pp. 635–43. Manual, doi:10.1016/B978-008045046-9.01122-0. Full Text Open Access Copy

Wurtz, Robert H., and Marc A. Sommer. “Identifying corollary discharges for movement in the primate brain.” Progress in Brain Research, Elsevier, 2004, pp. 47–60. Crossref, doi:10.1016/s0079-6123(03)14403-2. Full Text

Wurtz, R. H., et al. “The Superior Colliculus and the Cognitive Control of Movement.” The New Cognitive Neurosciences, edited by M. S. Gazzaniga, MIT Press, 2000, pp. 573–87. Open Access Copy

Smith, M. A., et al. “The Macrophage as the Demyelinative Agent: A Role for Antimyelin Antibodies.” Multiple Sclerosis: Current Status of Research and Treatment, edited by R. M. Herndon and F. J. Seil, Demos Publications, 1994, pp. 51–66.

Goetz, Stefan M., et al. “Isolating two sources of variability of subcortical stimulation to quantify fluctuations of corticospinal tract excitability.Clin Neurophysiol, vol. 138, Feb. 2022, pp. 134–42. Pubmed, doi:10.1016/j.clinph.2022.02.009. Full Text

Caruso, Valeria C., et al. “Compensating for a shifting world: evolving reference frames of visual and auditory signals across three multimodal brain areas.Journal of Neurophysiology, vol. 126, no. 1, July 2021, pp. 82–94. Epmc, doi:10.1152/jn.00385.2020. Full Text

Liu, Sicong, et al. “Psychophysiological Markers of Performance and Learning during Simulated Marksmanship in Immersive Virtual Reality.J Cogn Neurosci, vol. 33, no. 7, June 2021, pp. 1253–70. Pubmed, doi:10.1162/jocn_a_01713. Full Text

Tremblay, Sébastien, et al. “An Open Resource for Non-human Primate Optogenetics.Neuron, vol. 108, no. 6, Dec. 2020, pp. 1075-1090.e6. Pubmed, doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2020.09.027. Full Text

Cushnie, Adriana K., et al. “Using rAAV2-retro in rhesus macaques: Promise and caveats for circuit manipulation.Journal of Neuroscience Methods, vol. 345, Nov. 2020, p. 108859. Epmc, doi:10.1016/j.jneumeth.2020.108859. Full Text

Bohlen, Martin O., et al. “Adeno-Associated Virus Capsid-Promoter Interactions in the Brain Translate from Rat to the Nonhuman Primate.Human Gene Therapy, vol. 31, no. 21–22, Nov. 2020, pp. 1155–68. Epmc, doi:10.1089/hum.2020.196. Full Text

Gamboa Arana, Olga Lucia, et al. “Intensity- and timing-dependent modulation of motion perception with transcranial magnetic stimulation of visual cortex.Neuropsychologia, vol. 147, Oct. 2020, p. 107581. Pubmed, doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2020.107581. Full Text Open Access Copy

Gamboa, Olga Lucia, et al. “Application of long-interval paired-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation to motion-sensitive visual cortex does not lead to changes in motion discrimination.Neurosci Lett, vol. 730, June 2020, p. 135022. Pubmed, doi:10.1016/j.neulet.2020.135022. Full Text Open Access Copy

Gamboa Arana, Olga Lucia, et al. Dose-dependent enhancement of motion direction discrimination with transcranial magnetic stimulation of visual cortex. June 2020. Epmc, doi:10.1101/2020.06.14.151118. Full Text

Toader, Andrew C., et al. “Probabilistic inferential decision-making under time pressure in rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta).J Comp Psychol, vol. 133, no. 3, Aug. 2019, pp. 380–96. Pubmed, doi:10.1037/com0000168. Full Text Open Access Copy


Akbar, Navid, et al. “Mapping Motor Cortex Stimulation to Muscle Responses: A Deep Neural Network Modeling Approach.The ... International Conference on Pervasive Technologies Related to Assistive Environments : Petra ... International Conference on Pervasive Technologies Related to Assistive Environments, vol. 2020, 2020, p. 15. Epmc, doi:10.1145/3389189.3389203. Full Text

Yeung, Andrew Ho-Fai, et al. “Spatio-temporal image modulation for enhancing the quality of vision with potential application in patients with retinal prostheses.” Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, vol. 60, no. 9, ASSOC RESEARCH VISION OPHTHALMOLOGY INC, 2019.

Yarossi, M., et al. “An experimental and computational framework for modeling multi-muscle responses to transcranial magnetic stimulation of the human motor cortex.” International Ieee/Embs Conference on Neural Engineering, Ner, vol. 2019-March, 2019, pp. 1122–25. Scopus, doi:10.1109/NER.2019.8717159. Full Text Open Access Copy

Clements, J. M., et al. “Neurophysiology of Visual-Motor Learning during a Simulated Marksmanship Task in Immersive Virtual Reality.” 25th Ieee Conference on Virtual Reality and 3d User Interfaces, Vr 2018  Proceedings, 2018, pp. 451–58. Scopus, doi:10.1109/VR.2018.8446068. Full Text Open Access Copy