Mark M. Churchland, Ph.D.

Columbia University

Mark M. Churchland is an assistant professor in the Department of Neuroscience at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. He is the co-director of the Grossman Center for the Statistics of Mind. He received his B.A. in mathematics and psychology from Reed College in Portland, Oregon, and his Ph.D. in neuroscience from the University of California, San Francisco. His postdoctoral work was in the Neural Prosthetic Systems Laboratory at Stanford University.

Churchland’s research focuses on how the brain controls voluntary movement and on questions such as: How does the brain prepare and generate voluntary movement? What is the key event that triggers a movement and, in doing so, turns thought into action? Can we reduce the problem of movement generation to a problem of characterizing the neural dynamics that are necessary to generate muscle activity? If so, how should we then think of upstream ‘cognitive’ processes that determine which movement to make and when to make it? Churchland is a recipient of the 2012 National Institutes of Health’s Director’s New Innovator Award. He received a 2013 McKnight Scholar Award, a 2013 Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship and a 2012 Searle Scholars Award. He was a 2006 recipient of the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award and a 2003 recipient of the Helen Hay Whitney Research Fellowship.

Current Project: Leveraging dynamical smoothness to predict motor cortex population activity

Past Project: Spatiotemporal structure of neural population dynamics in the motor system

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