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

Neurobiology Training Program awarded by National Institutes of Health (Mentor). 2019 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 2021

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

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

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

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

The Role of Frontal Cortex in Primate Metacognition awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2015 to 2019

Basic predoctoral training in neuroscience awarded by National Institutes of Health (Training Faculty). 1992 to 2018

Visual Continuity Across Saccades awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2016


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, 2013, pp. 225–44. Scopus, 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

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.

Shin, Sooyoon, et al. “Visuomotor Integration.” Encyclopedia of Neuroscience, Springer Berlin Heidelberg, pp. 4354–59. Crossref, doi:10.1007/978-3-540-29678-2_6384. 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

Subramanian, Divya, et al. “Corollary Discharge for Action and Cognition.Biological Psychiatry. Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging, vol. 4, no. 9, Sept. 2019, pp. 782–90. Epmc, doi:10.1016/j.bpsc.2019.05.010. Full Text Open Access Copy

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

Bohlen, Martin O., et al. “Transduction of Craniofacial Motoneurons Following Intramuscular Injections of Canine Adenovirus Type-2 (CAV-2) in Rhesus Macaques.Frontiers in Neuroanatomy, vol. 13, Jan. 2019, p. 84. Epmc, doi:10.3389/fnana.2019.00084. Full Text Open Access Copy

Abzug, Zachary M., and Marc A. Sommer. “Neuronal correlates of serial decision-making in the supplementary eye field.” Journal of Neuroscience, vol. 38, no. 33, Society for Neuroscience, Aug. 2018, pp. 7280–92. Open Access Copy

Caruso, Valeria C., et al. “Beyond the labeled line: variation in visual reference frames from intraparietal cortex to frontal eye fields and the superior colliculus.Journal of Neurophysiology, vol. 119, no. 4, Apr. 2018, pp. 1411–21. Epmc, doi:10.1152/jn.00584.2017. Full Text Open Access Copy

Rao, Hrishikesh M., et al. “Sensorimotor Learning during a Marksmanship Task in Immersive Virtual Reality.Front Psychol, vol. 9, 2018, p. 58. Pubmed, doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00058. Full Text Open Access Copy

Abzug, Z. M., and M. A. Sommer. “Serial decision-making in monkeys during an oculomotor task.” Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Learning and Cognition, vol. 44, no. 1, American Psychological Association, Jan. 2018, pp. 95–102. Manual, doi:10.1037/xan0000154. Full Text Open Access Copy

Oh-Descher, Hanna, et al. “Probabilistic inference under time pressure leads to a cortical-to-subcortical shift in decision evidence integration.Neuroimage, vol. 162, Nov. 2017, pp. 138–50. Pubmed, doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2017.08.069. Full Text Open Access Copy

Rao, Hrishikesh M., et al. “Circuits for presaccadic visual remapping.J Neurophysiol, vol. 116, no. 6, Dec. 2016, pp. 2624–36. Pubmed, doi:10.1152/jn.00182.2016. Full Text Open Access Copy


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