John Michael Pearson

John Michael Pearson

Assistant Professor of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., Princeton University 2004

  • B.S., University of Kentucky at Lexington 1999


My research focuses on the application of machine learning methods to the analysis of brain data and behavior. I have a special interest in the neurobiology of reward and decision-making, particularly issues surrounding foraging, impulsivity, and self-control. More generally, I am interested in computational principles underlying brain organization at the mesoscale, and work in my lab studies phenomena that range from complex social behaviors to coding principles of the retina.

Pearson, JM, Law, JR, Skene, JAG, Beskind, DH, Vidmar, N, Ball, DA, Malekpour, A, Carter, RMK, and Skene, JHP. "Modelling the effects of crime type and evidence on judgments about guilt." Nature Human Behaviour 2.11 (November 1, 2018): 856-866. Full Text Open Access Copy

Lighthall, NR, Pearson, JM, Huettel, SA, and Cabeza, R. "Feedback-Based Learning in Aging: Contributions and Trajectories of Change in Striatal and Hippocampal Systems." The Journal of Neuroscience : the Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience 38.39 (September 2018): 8453-8462. Full Text

Addicott, MA, Pearson, JM, Sweitzer, MM, Barack, DL, and Platt, ML. "A Primer on Foraging and the Explore/Exploit Trade-Off for Psychiatry Research." Neuropsychopharmacology : Official Publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology 42.10 (September 2017): 1931-1939. (Review) Full Text

Chen, X, Beck, JM, and Pearson, JM. "Neuron's eye view: Inferring features of complex stimuli from neural responses." Plos Computational Biology 13.8 (August 21, 2017): e1005645-null. Full Text

Dowd, EW, Pearson, JM, and Egner, T. "Decoding working memory content from attentional biases." Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 24.4 (August 2017): 1252-1260. Full Text

Pearson, JM, Hickey, PT, Lad, SP, Platt, ML, and Turner, DA. "Local Fields in Human Subthalamic Nucleus Track the Lead-up to Impulsive Choices." Frontiers in Neuroscience 11 (January 2017): 646-null. Full Text

San Martín, R, Kwak, Y, Pearson, JM, Woldorff, MG, and Huettel, SA. "Altruistic traits are predicted by neural responses to monetary outcomes for self vs charity." Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience 11.6 (June 2016): 863-876. Full Text

Platt, ML, and Pearson, JM. "Dopamine: Context and counterfactuals." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 113.1 (January 2016): 22-23. Full Text

Chang, SWC, Fagan, NA, Toda, K, Utevsky, AV, Pearson, JM, and Platt, ML. "Neural mechanisms of social decision-making in the primate amygdala." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 112.52 (December 14, 2015): 16012-16017. Full Text

Addicott, MA, Pearson, JM, Kaiser, N, Platt, ML, and McClernon, FJ. "Suboptimal foraging behavior: a new perspective on gambling." Behavioral neuroscience 129.5 (October 2015): 656-665. Full Text


Chang, SWC, Brent, LJN, Adams, GK, Klein, JT, Pearson, JM, Watson, KK, and Platt, ML. "Neuroethology of primate social behavior." In the Light of Evolution. June 19, 2014. 115-134. Full Text

Selected Grants

Quantitative Methods for HIV/AIDS Research awarded by National Institutes of Health (Training Faculty). 2018 to 2023

Computational Modeling of Decision Making by Prosecutors and Jurors in Criminal Justice awarded by National Science Foundation (Co Investigator). 2017 to 2019

Nonparametric Bayes Methods for Big Data in Neuroscience awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2014 to 2019

Neural Circuit Mechanisms Mediating TMS and Oxytocin Effects on Social Cognition awarded by University of Pennsylvania (Principal Investigator). 2016 to 2019

Mechanisms of Parkinsonian Impulsivity in Human Subthalamic Nucleus awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2014 to 2017

Animal Model of Genetics and Social Behavior in Autism Spectrum Disorders awarded by National Institutes of Health (Advisor). 2012 to 2016

Contributions of Areas LIP and VIP to Numerical Behavior awarded by National Institutes of Health (Research Associate). 2009 to 2013