Current Research Staff
Alyssa A. Brewer, M.D., Ph.D.
- M.D. Stanford University School of Medicine: 9/1997 – 6/2007
- Ph.D. in Neuroscience Stanford University Neurosciences Graduate Program: 3/2000 – 9/2005
- B.S., H. Stanford University – Biological Sciences with Departmental Honors: 9/1991 – 6/1996
- A.B., InH Stanford University – Comparative Literature with Interdisciplinary Honors in the Humanities: 9/1991 – 6/1996
(Focus: Literary & linguistic analysis of English, German, & Latin literatures)
Research Training: I have had a lifelong interest in disease and the brain. To foster a career spanning both these interests, I completed a dual degree M.D./Ph.D. program at Stanford University to become a physician-scientist. During my graduate training in Neurosciences, I discovered and characterized three new visual areas in the human brain (e.g., Brewer et al., Nature Neuroscience 2005), made the first visual field map measurements with fMRI in macaque cortex (Brewer et al., Journal of Neuroscience 2002), and developed the proposal of visual field map clusters as a fundamental, organizing principle of human visual cortex (e.g., Brewer et al., Nature Neuroscience 2005; Wandell, Brewer, Dougherty, Phil Trans Roy Soc 2005; Wandell, Dumoulin, Brewer, Neuron 2007). I was also an instrumental member on several collaborative projects that investigated developmental plasticity in human rod monochromats (Baseler, Brewer et al., Nature Neuroscience 2002) and cortical plasticity induced by retinal lesions in adult macaque (Smirnakis, Brewer et al., Nature 2005). During my postdoctoral work at Stanford, I received training in diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) through a project investigating white matter changes in temporal lobe epilepsy and collaborated on a project using DTI to measure the inter-hemispheric connectivity of human primary visual cortex (Dougherty, Ben-Shachar, Bammer, Brewer, Wandell, PNAS 2005).To complement my neuroscience graduate and postdoctoral training, I simultaneously completed medical school with a concentration of clinical experiences in neurology and neurosurgery.
Current Work: Since starting in 2007 as a Professor at the University of California, I have been pursuing several lines of research arising from this training. My lab focuses on visual and multi-sensory neuroscience, using behavioral, genetic, and high resolution neuroimaging techniques to investigate questions ranging from the fundamental organization of human visual cortex, functional plasticity in visuomotor regions, and visual changes in dementia, to collaborative studies of human-robot social interactions and decision making and the organization of human auditory cortex. Our work has investigated the normal human visual and auditory systems, cortical plasticity, and the neurodegeneration of Alzheimer's disease. In addition, I have been involved in the development and application of the cutting-edge neuroimaging software from my graduate lab that uses population receptive field (pRF) modeling (Dumoulin and Wandell, NeuroImage 2008; Wandell, Dumoulin, Brewer, Neuron 2007). We apply this software to detailed measurements of pRFs which we use to define visual field map clusters across human visual cortex and cerebellum.
Colleagues & Collaborators: I am supported in my work by my postdoctoral, graduate, and undergraduate student trainees within the Department of Cognitive Sciences, who have experience in neuroimaging and visual field mapping methods, as well as by my colleagues both within my department and in the Centers for Hearing and for Cognitive Neuroscience & Engineering, who allow for a breadth of complementary views and feedback. In addition, I have developed several collaborations with members of my department, including auditory field mapping of human auditory cortex with Dr. Brian Barton and Professors Gregory Hickok and Kourosh Saberi, human-robot interactions with Professor Jeffrey Krichmar, and studying the plasticity of the visuo-motor system with Dr. Steven Cramer, Professor of Neurology at UCI.