Cody Walters

Ph.D. 2021

PhD Thesis:

Neural Computations Underpinning Anxiety in Health and Disease

Current Position:

Associate Editor, Nature Communications.

Undergrad Institution and Major:

University of California - San Diego, B.S., Cognitive Science, 2015

Graduate Advisor:

A. David Redish, Ph.D., Department of Neuroscience 

Description Of Graduate Research:

Broadly, I am interested in understanding the neural circuitry involved in decision-making and emotion processing. To this end, I am currently exploring how decisions are made during avoid-approach conflict by recording from neural ensembles in freely behaving rats. The resulting local field potential and multi-unit activity can then be analyzed in order to characterize and decode the population activity patterns that underpin deliberation, risk assessment, value representation, and action selection.

Graduate Publications:

  • Redish AD, Kepecs A, Anderson LM, Calvin OL, Grissom NM, Haynos AF, Heilbronner SR, Herman AB, Jacob S, Ma S, Vilares I, Vinogradov S, Walters CJ, Widge AS, Zick JL, Zilverstand A. Computational validity: using computation to translate behaviours across species. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2022 Feb 14;377(1844):20200525.
  • Walters CJ, Vinogradov S, Redish AD. Computational Modeling in Psychiatry. In: The Cambridge Handbook of Computational Cognitive Sciences, (R. Sun, ed). Cambridge University Press, Chapter 24. 2022.
  • Walters CJ, Jubran J, Sheehan A, Erickson MT, Redish AD. Avoid-approach conflict behaviors differentially affected by anxiolytics: implications for a computational model of risky decision-making. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2019;236(8):2513-2525.
  • Walters CJ, Redish AD. A case study in computational psychiatry: addiction as failure modes of the decision-making system. in Computational Psychiatry: Mathematical modeling of mental illness. Eds. Anticevic A, Murray J. Elsevier. Chapter 8, pp. 199-217, 2018.
  • Walters CJ. Review of ‘From neuron to cognition via computational neuroscience’, (M. A. Arbib, J. J. Bonaiuto, T. J. Sejnowski, eds). MIT Press, 2018.

Graduate Oral Presentations:

  • Representational dynamics underlying risky decision-making. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, November, 2018.
  • Decoding spatial position from dorsal hippocampal spike trains. Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, Okinawa, Japan, July 12, 2018.
  • Modeling the nervous system: From single cells to networks. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, November, 2018.
  • Decision-making and computational neuroscience. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, November, 2017.
  • Embodied cognition and the neural mechanisms underpinning imagination. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, November, 2016.

Graduate Abstracts:

  • Walters CJ, Redish AD. Non-local representation of future choices and salient locations in dorsal hippocampal CA1 during an anxiogenic robotic predator-inhabited foraging task. Society for Neuroscience, San Diego, CA, Nov 04, 2018.
  • Erickson MT, Walters CJ, Redish AD. Effects of diazepam on hippocampal neurophysiology and deliberative behavior in a predator-inhabited arena. Midwest Regional Neuroscience Conference, St. Paul, MN, October 13, 2018.
  • Walters CJ, Redish AD. A computational model of risky decision-making informed by the differential effects of anxiolytics on avoid-approach conflict behavior. Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, Okinawa, Japan, June 22, 2018.
  • Walters CJ, Redish AD. Diazepam, but not alcohol, increases hesitation and risky decision-making under threat uncertainty. Minnesota Neuromodulation Symposium, Minneapolis, MN, Apr 13, 2018
  • Walters CJ, Redish AD. Hesitation behavior during avoid-approach conflict differentially affected by anxiolytics. Society for Neuroscience, Washington, DC, Nov 15, 2017.
  • Walters CJ, Redish AD. Indecisive behavior in response to environmental threat. Graduate Program in Neuroscience Annual Retreat, Minneapolis, 2017.
  • Jubran J, Walters CJ, Redish AD. The effect of anxiolytics on avoid-approach conflict behavior. University of Minnesota UROP Research Symposium, Minneapolis, 2017.

Graduate Awards and Honors:

  • Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship  2020-2021
  • Cognitive Foundations of Economic Behavior Summer School Awardee University of Zurich Department of Economics, Vitznau, Switzerland Summer 2019
  • Okinawa Computational Neuroscience Summer School Awardee Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University, Okinawa, Japan Summer 2018
  • The Stark Award for Advanced Scholarship  2018
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse T32 Training Grant  2016-2019

Professional Outreach:

  • Brain Awareness Week Instructor at Hudson Middle School, Wisconsin October 2017
  • Brain Awareness Week Instructor at Irondale High School, Minnesota November 2015

Professional Societies:

  • Society for Neuroscience  2017-present

Thesis Committee Members:

Research Categories:

  • Computational Neuroscience
  • Neuropsychiatric Disease
  • Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience


Why Did You Choose MN?

I was attracted to the GPN because of the top-notch research happening here and the outstanding training program for incoming students. The university is big, and the GPN encompasses many departments (Bioengineering, Psychology, Pharmacology, etc.), so there are plenty of labs from which to choose.

Student Mentor and the Best Advice They Gave.

The best advice Brian Sweis has given me is to take full advantage of all the resources the GPN has to offer — from the students themselves to the professors in the program who are happy to answer questions and provide you with advice on just about anything!

What Advice Would You Give A First Year Graduate Student?

Pick a project that you are passionate about! One way to go about this is to talk candidly with PIs during your rotations to get a feel for what you would be doing if you joined their lab.