Miguel Angelo L. Nicolelis

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. 

Tseng, P-H, Rajangam, S, Lehew, G, Lebedev, MA, and Nicolelis, MAL. "Interbrain cortical synchronization encodes multiple aspects of social interactions in monkey pairs." Scientific reports 8.1 (March 29, 2018): 4699-. Full Text

Thomson, EE, Zea, I, Windham, W, Thenaisie, Y, Walker, C, Pedowitz, J, França, W, Graneiro, AL, and Nicolelis, MAL. "Cortical Neuroprosthesis Merges Visible and Invisible Light Without Impairing Native Sensory Function." eNeuro 4.6 (November 2017). Full Text

Ramakrishnana, A, Byunb, YW, Rand, K, Pedersen, CE, Lebedev, MA, and Nicolelis, MAL. "Cortical neurons multiplex reward-related signals along with sensory and motor information." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 114.24 (June 13, 2017): E4841-E4850. Full Text

Yadav, AP, and Nicolelis, MAL. "Electrical stimulation of the dorsal columns of the spinal cord for Parkinson's disease." Movement disorders : official journal of the Movement Disorder Society 32.6 (June 2017): 820-832. (Review) Full Text

Ramakrishnan, A, Byun, YW, Rand, K, Pedersen, CE, Lebedev, MA, and Nicolelis, MAL. "Cortical neurons multiplex reward-related signals along with sensory and motor information." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 114.24 (June 2017): E4841-E4850. Full Text Open Access Copy

Lebedev, MA, and Nicolelis, MAL. "Brain-Machine Interfaces: From Basic Science to Neuroprostheses and Neurorehabilitation." Physiological reviews 97.2 (April 2017): 767-837. (Review) Full Text

Vouga, T, Zhuang, KZ, Olivier, J, Lebedev, MA, Nicolelis, MAL, Bouri, M, and Bleuler, H. "EXiO-A Brain-Controlled Lower Limb Exoskeleton for Rhesus Macaques." IEEE transactions on neural systems and rehabilitation engineering : a publication of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society 25.2 (February 2017): 131-141. Full Text

Nicolelis, MAL. "Are we at risk of becoming biological digital machines?." Nature Human Behaviour 1.1 (January 10, 2017): 0008-0008. 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 (September 8, 2016): 32814-. 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 (August 11, 2016): 30383-. 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

Selected Grants

Medical Scientist Training Program awarded by National Institutes of Health (Mentor). 1997 to 2022

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

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

Path Toward MRI with Direct Sensitivity to Neuro-Electro-Magnetic Oscillations awarded by National Institutes of Health (Co Investigator). 2014 to 2018

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

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

Training in Fundamental &Translational Neuroscience awarded by National Institutes of Health (Training Faculty). 2005 to 2016

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