Scott Warren

Ph.D. 2016

Member of MSTP (MD/PhD) program

Thesis Title:

Selective Attentional Modulation of Task-Appropriate Neural Populations in Primary Visual Cortex

Current Position:

Resident in Neurology

Brown University/Rhode Island Hospital

Undergraduate Institution and Major:

University of Florida, B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering, 2009

Graduate Advisor:

Geoffrey Ghose, Ph.D.

Thesis Committee Members:

  • Steve Engel, Ph.D., Department of Psychology (Chair) 
  • James Ashe, M.D., Departments of Neuroscience and Neurology
  • Timothy Ebner, M.D./Ph.D., Department of Neuroscience      
  • Geoff Ghose, Ph.D., Department of Neuroscience

Description of Graduate Research:

Attention is a powerful modulator of sensory processing throughout the cerebral cortex. Humans effortlessly shift attention across multiple stimuli and sensory modalities several times per second, but strong limits to the effects of attention appear when one is asked to focus on objects at the edge of perceptibility.

I propose that these limitations are not due to the deficits in the neural implementation of attention proper, but rather are due to a failure of the brain to appropriately allocate attentional resources to the small neural populations that best detect these barely imperceptible objects. To test this hypothesis, I collect functional images from the visual systems of awake and behaving humans and non-human primates as they perform difficult attention tasks. I have shown that attentional modulations are not broadly distributed within the visual system, but rather are systematically targeted to the optimal neural population that is performing a given task ( I am currently exploring whether there exist systematic errors in the targeting of attentional modulations during tasks in which attention fails to improve behavioral performance.

Research Categories:

  • Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Computational Neuroscience
  • Neuroimaging and Optogenetics
  • Neuroengineering
  • Visual Neuroscience

Graduate Level Awards and Honors:

  • MnDRIVE Neuromodulation Fellowship (2014-2015)
  • American Legion Family Brain Sciences Award (2014)
  • Morris Smithberg Award (2012)
  • Best Poster Award, 4th Annual Symposium on Neuroengineering (2012)

Graduate Level Publications:

  • Warren SG, Yacoub E, Ghose GM. Featural and temporal attention selectively enhance task-appropriate representations in human primary visual cortex. Nat Commun. 2014;5:5643. doi: 10.1038/ncomms6643.

Graduate Level Abstracts: 

  • Warren SG, Yacoub ES, Ghose GM. (2011) Effect of feature attention as measured by fMRI is stronger in blood flow dominated voxels of visual cortex. Society for Neuroscience 41st Annual Meeting, Washington DC. (Poster and Abstract)

Professional Presentations:

  • Warren SG, Yacoub ES, Ghose GM. (2014) Non-spatial attention selectively biases orientation tuning in human V1. Society for Neuroscience 44th Annual Meeting, Washington DC. (Oral Presentation)


  • Geoffrey Ghose, Ph.D., Department of Neuroscience
  • Timothy Ebner, M.D./Ph.D., Department of Neuroscience
  • Bin He, Ph.D., Department of Biomedical Engineering
  • Jerrold Vitek, M.D./Ph.D., Department of Neurology

GPN Committees:

Career Facilitation Committee, Founding Member, 2015-2016

Scott Warren