Marc A. Sommer

Marc A. Sommer

W. H. Gardner, Jr. Associate Professor

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology 1995


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).

Toader, AC, Rao, HM, Ryoo, M, Bohlen, MO, Cruger, JS, Oh-Descher, H, Ferrari, S, Egner, T, Beck, J, and Sommer, MA. "Probabilistic inferential decision-making under time pressure in rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta)." Journal of Comparative Psychology (Washington, D.C. : 1983) (February 25, 2019). Full Text Open Access Copy

Abzug, ZM, and Sommer, MA. "Neuronal correlates of serial decision-making in the supplementary eye field." Journal of Neuroscience 38.33 (August 15, 2018): 7280-7292. Open Access Copy

Abzug, ZM, and Sommer, MA. "Serial decision-making in monkeys during an oculomotor task." Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Learning and Cognition 44.1 (January 2018): 95-102. Full Text Open Access Copy

Rao, HM, Khanna, R, Zielinski, DJ, Lu, Y, Clements, JM, Potter, ND, Sommer, MA, Kopper, R, and Appelbaum, LG. "Sensorimotor Learning during a Marksmanship Task in Immersive Virtual Reality." Frontiers in Psychology 9 (January 2018): 58-null. Full Text Open Access Copy

Oh-Descher, H, Beck, JM, Ferrari, S, Sommer, MA, and Egner, T. "Probabilistic inference under time pressure leads to a cortical-to-subcortical shift in decision evidence integration." Neuroimage 162 (November 2017): 138-150. Full Text Open Access Copy

Rao, HM, Mayo, JP, and Sommer, MA. "Circuits for presaccadic remapping." Journal of Neurophysiology 116.6 (December 1, 2016): 2624-2636. (Review) Full Text Open Access Copy

Oh, H, Beck, JM, Zhu, P, Sommer, MA, Ferrari, S, and Egner, T. "Satisficing in split-second decision making is characterized by strategic cue discounting." Journal of Experimental Psychology. Learning, Memory, and Cognition 42.12 (December 2016): 1937-1956. Full Text Open Access Copy

Zielinski, DJ, Sommer, MA, Rao, HM, Appelbaum, LG, Potter, ND, and Kopper, R. "Evaluating the effects of image persistence on dynamic target acquisition in low frame rate virtual environments." 2016 Ieee Symposium on 3d User Interfaces, 3dui 2016 Proceedings (April 26, 2016): 133-140. Full Text Open Access Copy


Abzug, ZM, and Sommer, MA. "Supplementary Eye Fields." Reference Module in Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Psychology.: Elevier. 2017. (Chapter) Open Access Copy

Middlebrooks, PG, Abzug, ZM, and Sommer, MA. "Studying metacognitive processes at the single neuron level." The Cognitive Neuroscience of Metacognition. December 1, 2013. 225-244. Full Text Open Access Copy

Crapse, TB, and Sommer, MA. "Corollary Discharge." Encyclopedia of Perception. Ed. Goldstein, RB. London, UK.: SAGE Publications. 2009. 325-327. (Chapter) Open Access Copy

Shin, SY, Crapse, TB, Mayo, JP, and Sommer, MA. "Visuomotor Integration." Encyclopedia of Neuroscience. Ed. Binder, MD, Hirokawa, N and Windhorst, U. Berlin, Heidelberg.: Springer. 2009. 4354-4359. (Chapter) Open Access Copy

Sommer, MA, and Wurtz, RH. "Single Neurons and Primate Behavior." Methods in Mind. Ed. Senior, C, Russell, T and Gazzaniga, M. Cambridge, MA.: MIT Press. 2009. 123-139. (Chapter) Open Access Copy

Sommer, MA. "Supplementary Eye Fields." Encyclopedia of Neuroscience.: Elsevier. 2009. 635-643. Full Text Open Access Copy

Wurtz, RH, Basso, MA, Paré, M, and Sommer, MA. "The Superior Colliculus and the Cognitive Control of Movement." The New Cognitive Neurosciences. Ed. Gazzaniga, MS. Cambridge, MA.: MIT Press. 2000. 573-587. (Chapter) Open Access Copy

Smith, MA, Sadler, RH, and Sommer, MA. "The Macrophage as the Demyelinative Agent: A Role for Antimyelin Antibodies." Multiple Sclerosis: Current Status of Research and Treatment. Ed. Herndon, RM and Seil, FJ. New York.: Demos Publications. 1994. 51-66. (Chapter)

Clements, JM, Kopper, R, Zielinski, DJ, Rao, H, Sommer, MA, Kirsch, E, Mainsah, BO, Collins, LM, and Appelbaum, LG. "Neurophysiology of Visual-Motor Learning during a Simulated Marksmanship Task in Immersive Virtual Reality." August 24, 2018. Full Text Open Access Copy

Selected Grants

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

Psychophysics-Guided Signal Processing for Retinal Prosthetics awarded by National Institutes of Health (Co Investigator). 2018 to 2020

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

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

Rational Design of TMS for Neuromodulation awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2014 to 2019

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

Student Design Projects for People with Disabilities at Duke University awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2010 to 2016

Functions of Saccadic Circuits in Lateral Cerebellar Cortex awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2012 to 2014

Effects of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation on Neurons in Behaving Primates awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2012 to 2014