Miguel Angelo L. Nicolelis

Duke School of Medicine Professor in Neuroscience

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., University of Sao Paulo (Brazil) 1988

  • M.D., University of Sao Paulo (Brazil) 1984


Miguel Nicolelis, M.D., Ph.D., is the Duke School of Medicine Distinguished Professor of Neuroscience, Duke University Professor of Neurobiology, Biomedical Engineering and Psychology and Neuroscience, and founder of Duke's Center for Neuroengineering. He is the founder and Scientific Director of the Edmond and Lily Safra International Institute for Neuroscience of Natal.  Dr. Nicolelis is also founder of the Walk Again Project, an international consortium of scientists and engineers, dedicated to the development of an exoskeleton device to assist severely paralyzed patients in regaining full body mobility.

Dr. Nicolelis has dedicated his career to investigate how the brains of freely behaving animals encode sensory and motor information. As a result of his studies, Dr. Nicolelis was first to propose and demonstrate that animals and human subjects can utilize their electrical brain activity to directly control neuroprosthetic devices via brain-machine interfaces (BMI).

Over the past 25 years, Dr. Nicolelis pioneered and perfected the development of a new neurophysiological method, known today as chronic, multi-site, multi-electrode recordings. Using this approach in a variety of animal species, as well as in intra-operative procedures in human patients, Dr. Nicolelis launched a new field of investigation, which aims at measuring the concurrent activity and interactions of large populations of single neurons throughout the brain. Through his work, Dr. Nicolelis has discovered a series of key physiological principles that govern the operation of mammalian brain circuits.

Dr. Nicolelis pioneering BMI studies have become extremely influential since they offer new potential therapies for patients suffering from severe levels of paralysis, Parkinson’s disease, and epilepsy. Today, numerous neuroscience laboratories in the US, Europe, Asia, and Latin America have incorporated Dr. Nicolelis' experimental paradigm to study a variety of mammalian neuronal systems. His research has influenced basic and applied research in computer science, robotics, and biomedical engineering. 

Yin, A, An, J, Lehew, G, Lebedev, MA, and Nicolelis, MAL. "An automatic experimental apparatus to study arm reaching in New World monkeys." Journal of neuroscience methods 264 (May 2016): 57-64. Full Text

Rajangam, S, Tseng, PH, Yin, A, Lehew, G, Schwarz, D, Lebedev, MA, and Nicolelis, MA. "Wireless Cortical Brain-Machine Interface for Whole-Body Navigation in Primates." Scientific reports 6 (March 3, 2016): 22170-. Full Text

Hartmann, K, Thomson, EE, Zea, I, Yun, R, Mullen, P, Canarick, J, Huh, A, and Nicolelis, MA. "Embedding a Panoramic Representation of Infrared Light in the Adult Rat Somatosensory Cortex through a Sensory Neuroprosthesis." The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience 36.8 (February 2016): 2406-2424. Full Text

Donati, ARC, Shokur, S, Morya, E, Campos, DSF, Moioli, RC, Gitti, CM, Augusto, PB, Tripodi, S, Pires, CG, Pereira, GA, Brasil, FL, Gallo, S, Lin, AA, Takigami, AK, Aratanha, MA, Joshi, S, Bleuler, H, Cheng, G, Rudolph, A, and Nicolelis, MAL. "Long-Term Training with a Brain-Machine Interface-Based Gait Protocol Induces Partial Neurological Recovery in Paraplegic Patients." Scientific reports 6 (January 2016): 30383-. Full Text

Pais-Vieira, M, Yadav, AP, Moreira, D, Guggenmos, D, Santos, A, Lebedev, M, and Nicolelis, MAL. "A Closed Loop Brain-machine Interface for Epilepsy Control Using Dorsal Column Electrical Stimulation." Scientific reports 6 (January 2016): 32814-. Full Text

Shokur, S, Gallo, S, Moioli, RC, Donati, ARC, Morya, E, Bleuler, H, and Nicolelis, MAL. "Assimilation of virtual legs and perception of floor texture by complete paraplegic patients receiving artificial tactile feedback." Scientific reports 6 (January 2016): 32293-. Full Text

Pais-Vieira, M, Kunicki, C, Tseng, P-H, Martin, J, Lebedev, M, and Nicolelis, MAL. "Cortical and thalamic contributions to response dynamics across layers of the primary somatosensory cortex during tactile discrimination." Journal of neurophysiology 114.3 (September 2015): 1652-1676. Full Text

Ramakrishnan, A, Ifft, PJ, Pais-Vieira, M, Byun, YW, Zhuang, KZ, Lebedev, MA, and Nicolelis, MA. "Computing Arm Movements with a Monkey Brainet." Scientific reports 5 (July 9, 2015): 10767-. Full Text

Pais-Vieira, M, Chiuffa, G, Lebedev, M, Yadav, A, and Nicolelis, MA. "Building an organic computing device with multiple interconnected brains." Scientific reports 5 (July 9, 2015): 11869-. Full Text

Pais-Vieira, M, Chiuffa, G, Lebedev, M, Yadav, A, and Nicolelis, MAL. "Corrigendum: Building an organic computing device with multiple interconnected brains." Scientific reports 5 (January 2015): 14937-. Full Text


Simon, SA, de Araujo, IE, Stapleton, JR, and Nicolelis, MAL. "Multisensory Processing of Gustatory Stimuli." June 2008. Full Text

Morizio, J, Won, D, Obeid, I, Bossetti, C, Nicolelis, M, and Wolf, P. "16-channel neural pre-conditioning device." January 1, 2003. Full Text

Sanchez, JC, Kim, SP, Erdogmus, D, Rao, YN, Principe, JC, Wessberg, J, and Nicolelis, M. "Input-output mapping performance of linear and nonlinear models for estimating hand trajectories from cortical neuronal firing patterns." January 1, 2002. Full Text

NINDS Research Education Programs for Residents and Fellows in Neurosurgery awarded by National Institutes of Health (Mentor). 2009 to 2019

Autism as a Disease of Brain Circuit Timing awarded by Hartwell Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2014 to 2017

Interval Timing and Motor Programming by Cortico-Striatal Ensembles awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2011 to 2017

Path Toward MRI with Direct Sensitivity to Neuro-Electro-Magnetic Oscillations awarded by National Institutes of Health (Co Investigator). 2014 to 2017

A Virtual Reality Simulator to Study VLSBA and Test Brain-Actuating Technologies awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2010 to 2016

Dorsal Column Stimulation as a New Therapy for Motor Disorders awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2010 to 2016

Neuroimmune Response to Organophosphates and its Modulation by Dorsal Column Stimulation awarded by Department of Defense (Principal Investigator). 2013 to 2015

Sensorized Bimanual Brain-Machine Interface awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2013 to 2014

Trigeminal System Plasticity During Active Exploration awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 1994 to 2012

Method for In-Vivo Assessment of Neuronal Dysfunction awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2006 to 2012