James P. Herman, PhD

  • Assistant Professor, Ophthalmology
Picture of James Herman


(412) 624-2609



Personal Website


Education & Training

PhD, The Graduate Center of the City University of New York (2012)


709 New Texas Road, Room 109
Pittsburgh, PA 15239

Research Interest Summary

Subcortical contributions to visual cognitive functions

Visual perception and visual cognitive functions such as attention and perceptual decision making are usually associated with the cerebral cortex. There is no doubt that the impressive visual abilities of primates depend in a vital way on the exquisite architecture and structured connectivity amongst cortical areas of the brain. But biological organisms were using brains for vision for hundreds of millions of years before the cerebral cortex evolved.

Recent work suggest new approaches are required to understand how "higher" visual cognitive functions arise as a result of coordinated subcortical-cortical interactions. For example, disruption of neuronal activity in a variety of subcortical nodes can circumvent cortical processing of visual information, and specific patterns of visual input can alleviate motor control deficits associated with damage to subcortical circuits.

Work in my lab employs carefully controlled psychophysical tasks, large-scale extracellular electrophysiology, neuronal perturbation, and computational modelling techniques to explain the relationship between both intact and perturbed neuronal activity to ongoing behavior. We are particularly interested in leveraging learning-driven structured variation in behavior to understand how groups of neurons guide specific cognitive functions

Representative Publications

Herman, J.P., Arcizet, F., and Krauzlis, R.J. (2020). Attention-related modulation of caudate neurons depends on superior colliculus activity. Elife 9, e53998.

Herman, J.P., Katz, L.N., and Krauzlis, R.J. (2018). Midbrain activity can explain perceptual decisions during an attention task. Nature Neuroscience 21, 1651–1655.

Krauzlis, R.J., Bogadhi, A.R., Herman, J.P., and Bollimunta, A. (2018). Selective attention without a neocortex. Cortex; a Journal Devoted to the Study of the Nervous System and Behavior 102, 161–175.

Herman, J.P., and Krauzlis, R.J. (2017). Color-Change Detection Activity in the Primate Superior Colliculus. ENeuro 4, ENEURO.0046-17.2017.

Herman, J.P., Bogadhi, A.R., and Krauzlis, R.J. (2015). Effects of spatial cues on color-change detection in humans. Journal of Vision 15(6), 1–16.

Gray, M.J., Blangero, A., Herman, J.P., Wallman, J., and Harwood, M.R. (2014). Adaptation of naturally paced saccades. Journal of Neurophysiology 111, 2343–2354.

Heller, E.A., Cates, H.M., Peña, C.J., Sun, H., Shao, N., Feng, J., Golden, S.A., Herman, J.P., Walsh, J.J., Mazei-Robison, M., et al. (2014). Locus-specific epigenetic remodeling controls addiction- and depression-related behaviors. Nature Neuroscience 17, 1720–1727.

Herman, J.P., Blangero, A., Madelain, L., Khan, A., and Harwood, M.R. (2013). Saccade adaptation as a model of flexible and general motor learning. Experimental Eye Research 114, 6–15.

Madelain, L., Herman, J.P., and Harwood, M.R. (2013). Saccade adaptation goes for the goal. Journal of Vision 13, 9–9.

Madelain, L., Harwood, M.R., Herman, J.P., and Wallman, J. (2010). Saccade adaptation is unhampered by distractors. Journal of Vision 10, 29–29.

Herman, J.P., Harwood, M.R., and Wallman, J. (2009). Saccade Adaptation Specific to Visual Context. J Neurophysiol 101, 1713–1721.

Harwood, M.R., and Herman, J.P. (2008). Optimally Straight and Optimally Curved Saccades. Journal of Neuroscience 28, 7455–7457.

Herman, J.P. (2007) Our Biotech Future': An exchange (Freeman Dyson). The New York Review of Books 54 (14) 101-102