Stephen Kerrigan

Ph.D. 2014

E-mail: [email protected]

Thesis Title:

Mixed Selectivity for Spatio-Temporal Sequences in Macaque Dorso-Lateral Prefrontal Cortex

Current Position:

Business Manager, Pathways Consulting

Former Position:

Research Scientist, VA Medical Center

Undergraduate Institution and Major/Degree:

B.A., Neuroscience, 2004, Colorado College, Colorado Springs, CO

Major Advisor(s):

James Ashe, M.D.

Research Description:

I am interested in the neural control of movement, or motor control. To perform most behaviors sensation requires constant monitoring and control signals require constant adjustment.  This is sometimes referred to as the action-perception cycle and the pre-frontal cortex is thought to be the seat of cognitive control over this process. Pre-frontal cortex monitors and adjusts behavioral progress; it integrates incoming sensory and propriosensory signals with motor plans and other goal signals, and then adjusts outgoing motor commands accordingly.

Goal driven monitoring and control over movement is certainly in play when a musician attempts a challenging piece of music.  Each note must be struck at the right time and in the right order, and the player must also keep track of their current position in the piece. One of the perennial topics in motor control is, ‘which variables are actually controlled by which levels of the nervous system during movement?’ I am currently studying which variables are encoded by the pre-frontal cortex during complex timed movement sequences, such as dancing to or playing music.

Specifically, I am studying the representations of time, serial order, and direction encoded by the dorsolateral pre-frontal cortex of monkeys while they perform a sequence of movements in our highly simplified piano playing task.  I measured the time of each electrical action potential produced by single cells during the planning and execution of the behavioral task.  Then I quantified the strength of the cellular representation of various facets of the movements by measuring the number of bits of information encoded by action potentials about time, serial order, direction and other candidate variables.

Lab Rotations:

  • Cheryl Olman
  • Yasushi Nakagawa
  • Teresa Nick
  • Matt Chafee

Courses Taken Beyond the Core Courses:

  • NSC 8208 Neuropsychopharmacology
  • BMEN 2401 - Programming for Biomedical Engineers
  • MATH 2243 - Linear Algebra and Differential Equations
  • NSc 8320 Neurostatistical Analysis
  • Phsl 5201Computational Neuroscience: Membranes and Channels
  • NSc 5202 Theoretical Neuroscience: Systems and Information Processing
  • NSc 8217: Systems and Computational Neuroscience
  • MATH 5447 - Theoretical Neuroscience

Conferences Attended:

  • Society For Neuroscience Annual Meeting, 2005, 2006, 2010, 2011
  • International Society for Neuroethology, 2007

Committee Members:

  • Goeff Ghose
  • Bagrat Amirikian
  • Paul Schrater
  • James Ashe

Publications and Presentations:


  • Day NF, Kerrigan SJ, Aoki N, Nick TA. Identification of single neurons in a forebrain network. J Neurophysiol. 2011;106(6):3205-15.
  • Kerrigan SJ, Soechting JF. Anisotropies in the gain of smooth pursuit during two-dimensional tracking as probed by brief perturbations. Exp Brain Res. 2007;180(3):435-48

Invited Talks:

  • A Joint Representation of Time and Space: Sequential Movement Features in Primate Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex. Augsburg College, April 4, 2012.
  • Sequential Movement Features Related to Time and Space are Best Represented Jointly in Primate DLPFC. IGERT Integrative Training Grant Fellows, Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Minnesota, March 29, 2012.
  • Encoding Time and Sequence in Primate Dorsolateral Pre-Frontal Cortex and Pre-SMA. University of Minnesota Graduate Program in Neuroscience Colloquium, May 11, 2011.
  • Planning Sequences of Temporal Intervals in Dorsolateral Pre-Frontal Cortex and Pre-SMA. Carleton College Capstone Lecture Series, April 21, 2011.
  • Temporal Sequences in Frontal Cortex. University of Minnesota Graduate Program in Neuroscience Colloquium, May 4, 2010.
  • Measuring Temporal Information in Frontal Cortex. University of Minnesota Integrative Training in Neuroimaging Fellows, 2009.
  • Song and the Single Neuron: Probing Developmental Changes in Circuit Dynamics of  Zebra Finch Premotor Song Nucleus HVC. University of Minnesota Neuro-Physical-Computational Sciences Fellows, 2007.

Awards and Honors:

  • NIH Neuro-Physical-Computational Sciences Fellow. 2006-2008
  • NIH Integrative Training in Neuroimaging Fellow, 2009-2011

Professional Memberships:

  • Society for Neuroscience

Home Town:

  • Denver, CO
Stephen Kerrigan