Vivien A. Casagrande, PhD
  • Professor of Cell & Developmental Biology, Psychology and Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences, Vanderbilt University  
  • Kennedy Center Investigator and Senior Fellow
  • Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • Fellow, American Association of Anatomists
  • Recipient, Chancellor's Award for Research 2013
Research interests:

The overall goal of this research is to understand how the visual thalamus and cortex interact to construct our perceptual world.

The first project explores the unconventional proposal that the primary sensory information received by the visual cortex from the visual thalamus [e.g., the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN)] is not purely visual but rather visual information, primed by inputs from other sensory modalities. In this project, we hypothesize that the primate brain achieves fast and accurate decision-making in part due to its ability to focus, right from the beginning, on relevant aspects of inputs from all sense organs without appreciating all the details presented by each sense organ. Our specific hypothesis is that auditory and visual information are combined in a task dependent manner in the visual thalamus before this message is processed in cortex.

In a second project, we test the hypothesis that all thalamic nuclei contain some cell groups that act as drivers (send the main message) and some that act as modulators for multiple cortical areas, thus mediating the generation of an array of diverse cortical functions. The thalamus is not simply a passive relay to cortex. Instead, just as primary visual cortex (V1) depends on LGN, the secondary visual area (V2) and the middle temporal visual area (MT) depend on a combination of dedicated pathways through the thalamus (e.g., pulvinar) and direct feedforward connections from V1.This arrangement allows new properties to emerge at both the thalamic and cortical levels through dynamic loops.

A third project focuses on communication between cells in different areas of visual cortex and examines how visual messages are coded and transmitted from lower to higher visual areas and what the role of feedback is in this process.

We use a variety of electrophysiological, anatomical, and imaging approaches to address these questions including single unit and multielectrode recording in both anesthetized and awake behaving primates, light, electron microscopic and confocal examination of cells and circuits, optical imaging of intrinsic signals and pharmacological manipulation. Our laboratory also has had a long standing interest in the evolution of the visual system. Therefore, we continue to use a comparative approach to examine for similarities and differences in the organization of the visual system in a variety of primate species. (AAAS)

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News articles about Dr. Vivien Casagrande:
Exploration, Reporter (AAAS)
Register (AAAS)
Reporter (AAA)

Reporter, (Charles R. Park Award)
2012 Nature Neuroscience Paper
Chancellor's Award for Research, 2013


Education

University of Colorado, Boulder, CO   B.A.   1964  Psychol./Biol.
Duke University, Durham, NC    Ph.D.   1972  Physiol. Psych.
Duke University, Durham, NC    Postdoc.  1972-1973 Neuroanatomy
Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison, WI    Postdoc.   1973-1975 Anatomy


Professional Experience

1965-1967     Research Assistant, Arthur D. Little, Inc., Cambridge, MA
1968-1970 USPHS Trainee in Physiological Psychology, Duke University
1970-1972 NRSA Predoctoral Fellowship (Dr. I.T. Diamond), Dept. of Psychology, Duke University
1972-1973 NIH, NIGMS Behavioral Medicine Postdoc. Fellowship in Neuroanatomy, Duke University
1973-1975 Research Associate, Dept. of Anatomy, University of Wisconsin, (Laboratory of Dr. R.W. Guillery)
1975-1977 NIMH Fellowship Review Committee
1975-1980 Assistant Professor, Department of Anatomy and Psychology, Vanderbilt
1979-1984 NIH Bio-Psychology Study Section
1979-1984 NIH Behavioral and Neuroscience Fellowship Ad Hoc Review Group
1980-1985 Associate Professor, Department of Anatomy and Psychology, Vanderbilt
1981      The Charles Hudson Herrick Award from the American Association of Anatomists
1986-1992 Co-Director for Biomedical Sciences, Kennedy Center
1986-present   Professor, Departments of Cell and Developmental Biology (formerly Anatomy) and Psychology, Vanderbilt University
1987-2000 Editorial Boards:  Journal Comparative Neurology and Visual Neuroscience
1987-1993;     1995-2000 Visual Neuroscience; 1990-1993 Associate Editor
1992-1994 NIH Bio-Psychology Study Section
1993-1996 Associate Editor:  American Journal of Mental Retardation
1995-1998 NIH Visual Sciences B Study Section
1997-1998 President, Cajal Club; Cajal Club Board of Directors 2000-present
1997-present Professor, Department of Ophthalmology (secondary), Vanderbilt Univ. Medical School


Teaching Experience

Special Topics in Neuroscience, Vanderbilt University (Course Director)
     Topics have included:  Development of the Nervous System; Structure and  Function of
     Dendrites; Structure and Function of the Vertebrate Eye; Limbic System; History of
     Neuroscience; Development of the Visual System; Structure and Function of the tectum;
     Methods in Neuroscience; Parallel Processing in the Visual System; The Role of Neural
     Activity in Neural Development; Current issues in Neural Development; Current
     Methods in Neurobiology; Designing Good Experiments in Neurobiology, Imaging
     Methods: Cells to Brains

Basic Course in Department of Ophthalmology, Vanderbilt University (Guest Lecturer)
Neuroanatomy, Meharry Medical College (Guest Lecturer)
Seminar on Brain Imaging - Department of Psychiatry, Vanderbilt University (Guest Lecturer)
Cell Biology - Department of Cell Biology, Vanderbilt University
Neural Development - Department of Psychology, Vanderbilt University
The Visual System - Cross Departmental Course, Vanderbilt University (Lecturer)
Cell and Molecular Neuroscience - Department of Cell Biology, Vanderbilt University (Course Director)
Cellular and Integrative Neuroscience - Departments of Cell Biology, Pharmacology, Physiology and Biophysics, and Center for Neuroscience, Vanderbilt University
Course Director)
Interdisciplinary Graduate Course - Vanderbilt Medical School (Lecturer)
Fundamentals of Neuroscience - Vanderbilt Medical School (Lecturer)


Honors and Awards

1967-1968; 1970-72 NIH Predoctoral  Traineeships
1972-1973 NIH NRSA Postdoctoral
Fellowship
1977-1980 Academic Investigator Salary Award
1981-1986 Research Career
Development Award
The Charles Judson Herrick Award.  For meritorious contributions to
comparative Neurology.  Presented by the American Association of Anatomists, 1998
Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2006
Fellow, American Association of Anatomists, 2011
Charles R. Park Award for Basic Research Revealing Insights into Physiology and Pathophysiology, 2012

Recipient, Chancellor's Award for Research, 2013


Manuscript Reviews & Editorial Boards

Editorial Consultant for:  Science, J. Comparative and Physiological Psychology, Physiology & Behavior, Neuroscience, J. Neuroscience, J. Neurophysiology, Vision Research, Develop. Brain Research, Brain Research Bulletin, Brain Research, Behavioral and Brain Science, Laboratory Animal Science, Brain Behavior and Evolution, Journal of MedicalPrimatology, Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science, Psychological Bulletin,Current Eye Research, Visual Neuroscience, Cerebral Cortex, Physiology and Behavior; Laboratory Animal Science, Anatomical Record, Trends in Neuroscience, PNAS, Experimental Brain Research, Nature; J. Neurocytology, J. Physiology, Lasers in Surgery & Medicine.
Editorial Board:  J. Comparative Neurology, 1987-present; Visual Neuroscience, 1989-1991,1996-present
Associate Editor:  Visual Neuroscience, 1991-1993, American Journal on Mental Retardation, 1993-1998

Professional Activities

ADMINISTRATION AND COMMITTEES (National)

National Institutes of Mental Health Fellowship Review Committee, 1975-1977
National Institutes of Health Bio-Psychology Study Section, 1979-1983
National Institutes of Health Behavioral and Neurosciences Fellowship Ad Hoc Review Group, 1979-1983
National Science Foundation, Outside Reviewer
National Eye Institute, Visual Sciences A Study Section, Ad Hoc Reviewer
National Eye Institute, Visual Sciences B Study Section, Ad Hoc Reviewer
Panel for Presidential Young Investigator Awards (NSF), Member, 1989
Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, Program Planning Committee, 1989-present; Chairman, Anatomy and Pathology Subsection, 1990-1991
Selection Committee for 1991 Society for Neuroscience, Young Investigator Award
Invited Organizer of American Association of Anatomists Cajal Club Symposium, 1992:  The role of Glia in Neural Pattern Formation
Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, Strategic Planning Committee, 1991- 1992, Chair, 1992
Mini-Symposium organizer for the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology 1992:  A new look at parallel vision channels in primates
C.J. Herrick Award Committee, 1993-1996
Cajal Club Nomination Committee for President and Program Chair, 1992-1994
University of Kansas MRRC Outsider Reviewer - Neuroscience Cores. 1993
National Eye Institute, Visual Sciences B Study Section, 1995-1998
Ad Hoc reviewer, National Science Foundation
Cajal Club President Elect (Nissl Body) 1997; President (Nucleolus) 1998
Dissertation Committee for D. A. Barker, University of Sydney, (Australia) 1998
NSF/EPSCoR External Advisory Committee 1996-2000
Society for Neuroscience Communications and Chapters Committee, 1997-present
Cajal Club Foundation Corporation board member, 1997-present
Chairperson, National Eye Institute CDA Review Panel, 2006
Faculty of 1,000 reviewer, 2001-present
Ad Hoc reviewer, NHMRC Project Grants (2000, 2002)
American Association Anatomists EB 2000 Program Committee Meeting
Ad Hoc grant reviewer, Welcome Trust (1999, 2000, 2002)
Ad Hoc reviewer Integrative, Functional and Cognitive Neuroscience - 8 (IFCN-8) study section, NIH (2003)


Selected Publications 

Representative Publications 2001-2013
PDFs, links and older publications are available on the lab website

Li, K., Patel, J., Purushothaman, G., Marion, R.T. and Casagrande, V. A. (2013). Retinotopic maps in the pulvinar of bush baby (Otolemur garnettii) Journal of Comparative Neuroscience, in press.

Purushothaman, G. and Casagrande, V.A. (2013) A generalized ideal observer model for decoding sensory neural responses. Frontiers in Psychology, in press.

Purushothaman, G., X. Chen, X., Yampolsky, D., Casagrande, V.A. (2013) Neural mechanisms of coarse-to-fine discrimination in the primary visual cortex Journal of Neurophysiology, submitted.

Marion, R., Purushothaman, G., Jiang, Y., Casagrande, V.A. (2012) ) Morphological and neurochemical comparisons between pulvinar and V1 projections to V2. Journal of Comparative Neurology, 521: 813–832.

Fan, R.H., Baldwin, M.K., Jermakowicz, W.J., Casagrande, V.A., Kaas, J.H., Roe, A.W. (2012) Intrinsic signal optical imaging evidence for dorsal V3 in the prosimian galago (Otolemur garnetti) Journal of Comparative Neurology 520: 4254–4274.

Purushothaman, G., Marion, R., Li, K., and V. A. Casagrande (2012) Gating and control of primary visual cortex by pulvinar. Nature Neuroscience, 15, 905–912

Casagrande, V.A. and R.T. Marion, (2011) Processing in the Primary Visual Cortex) In Adler’s Physiology of the Eye, 11th edition (A. Alm, P.L. Kaufman, (lead) L.A. Levin, S.F.E. Nilsson, J. Ver Hoeve and S.M. Wu, eds) Mosby, Elsevier, pp 586-598.

Casagrande, V.A. and J.M. Ichida (2011) Processing in the Lateral Geniculate Nucleus (LGN) In Adler’s Physiology of the Eye, 11th edition (A. Alm, P.L. Kaufman, (lead) L.A. Levin, S.F.E. Nilsson, J. Ver Hoeve and S.M. Wu, eds) Mosby, Elsevier, pp. 574-585.

Casagrande, V.A. and G. Purushothaman, (2009) Modularity. In Encyclopedia of Perception (E. Bruce Goldstein, ed). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, pp 561-566.

Purushothaman, G., I. Khaytin, and V.A. Casagrande (2009) Quantification of optical images of cortical responses for inferring functional maps. J. Neurophysiol., 101, 2708-2724.

Jermakowicz, W.J., X. Chen, I. Khaytin, A.B. Bonds and V.A. Casagrande (2009) Relationship between spontaneous and evoked spike-time correlations in primate visual cortex. J. Neurophysiol., 101, 2279-2789.

Casagrande, V.A., I. Khaytin, and J. Boyd (2008) Evolution of the Visual System: Mammals—Color Vision and the Function of Parallel Visual Pathways in Primates. In Encyclopedia of Neuroscience (A. Butler, ed), published, pp pending.

Boyd*, J.D., I. Khaytin, and V. A. Casagrande (2008) Comparative approach to study of the evolution of mammalian visual system. In Encyclopedia of Neuroscience (A. Butler, ed.), published, pp pending.

Casagrande, V.A., I. Khaytin, I., and J. Boyd (2007) The evolution of parallel visual pathways in the brains of primates. In Evolution of the Nervous System (T.M. Preuss and J. Kaas, eds.), Vol. 4, pp. 87-108.

J ermakowicz, W.J. and Casagrande, V.A. (2007) Neuronal networks a century after Cajal. In Brain Research Reviews vol. 55: A Century of Neuroscience Discovery: Reflecting on the 1906 Nobel Prizes to Golgi and Cajal. In Brain Research Reviews (L. Swanson, ed.), Amsterdam: Elsevier, pp. 264-284.

Casagrande, V.A., X. Chen and W. J. Jermakowicz (2007) What language is spoken here? Conversations between neurons in primate visual cortex. In Advances in Cognitive Neurodynamics (Wang, R., Gu, F., Shen, E. eds), Springer, pp. 27-30.

Casagrande, V.A., Chen, X. and Jermakowicz, W.J. (2007) What Language is Spoken Here? ConversationsBetween Neurons in Primate Visual Cortex. In Advances in Cognitive Neurodynamics- Proceedings of the International Conference on Cognitive Neurodynamics – 2007. (R. Wang, F. Gu and E. Shen, eds.), Springer, pp. 27-30.

Xu, X,, Anderson, T.J., Casagrande, V.A. (2007) How do functional maps in primary visual cortex vary with eccentricity? Journal of Comparative Neurology 501: 741-755.

Casagrande, V.A., F. Yazar, K.D. Jones, and Y. Ding (2007) The morphology of the koniocellular (K) axon pathway in the macaque monkey. Cerebral Cortex 17: 2334-2345.

Casagrande, V.A., X. Chen and W. J. Jermakowicz (2007) What language is spoken here? Conversations between neurons in primate visual cortex. Advances in Cognitive Neurodynamics (Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on Cognitive Neurodynamics (ICCN-07)) and 3rd International conference on Physiological Biophysics – Cognitive Neurodynamics (ICCN2007 proceedings).

Casagrande, V.A., I. Khaytin, I., and J. Boyd (2006) The evolution of parallel visual pathways in the brains of primates. In Evolution of the Nervous System (T.M. Preuss and J. Kaas, eds.), vol. 4, pp. 87-108.

Ruiz, O., D. Royal, G. Sáry, X. Chen, J. D. Schall, and V. A. Casagrande (2006) Low-threshold Ca2+ associated bursts are rare events in the LGN of the awake behaving monkey. Journal of Neurophysiology 95:3401-3413.

Elston, G.N., R. Benavides-Piccione, A. Elston, B. Zietsch, J. DeFelipe, P. Manger, V. Casagrande and J. Kaas (2006) Specializations of the granular prefrontal cortex of primates: implications for cognitive processing. Anatomical Record Part A 288A:26-35.

Royal, D. W., Gy. Sáry, J.D. Schall, and V.A. Casagrande (2006) Correlates of motor planning and integration across visual fixations in the macaque monkey lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN). Experimental Brain Research 168:62-75.

Xu, X., Collins C.E., Khaytin, I., Kaas J. H., and V. A. Casagrande (2006). Unequal representation of cardinal versus oblique orientations in the middle temporal (MT) visual area. Proceedings for the National Academy of Sciences 103(46):17490-95.

Casagrande, V.A., Royal, D.W., Sáry, Gy. (2005) Extraretinal inputs and feedback mechanisms to the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN). In The Primate Visual System: A Comparative Approach (Jan Kremers, ed.) Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley and Sons, pp. 191-206.

Casagrande, V. A., Gy. Sáry, D. Royal, and O. Ruiz (2005) On the impact of attention and motor planning on the lateral geniculate nucleus. In Progress in Brain Research vol. 149: Cortical Function: A View from the Thalamus. (V. A. Casagrande, S. M. Sherman and R. W. Guillery, eds), Amsterdam: Elsevier, pp. 11-29.

Casagrande, V.A., R. Guillery, and S. Sherman, eds. (2005) Cortical function: a view from the thalamus (book). In Progress in Brain Research vol. 149: Cortical Function: A View from the Thalamus. (V. A. Casagrande, S. M. Sherman and R. W. Guillery, eds) Amsterdam: Elsevier.

Collins, C. E., X. Xu, I. Khaytin, P. M. Kaskan, V. A. Casagrande, and J. H. Kaas (2005) Optical imaging of visually evoked responses in the middle temporal area after deactivation of primary visual cortex in adult primates. Proceedings for the National Academy of Sciences 102(15): 5594-5559.

Elston, E., A. Elston, V. Casagrande, and J. H. Kaas (2005) Pyramidal neurons in granular prefrontal cortex of the bush baby: Complexity in the evolution of the psychic cell. Anatomical Record Part A 285A:610–618.

Elston, E., A. Elston, V. Casagrande, and J. H. Kaas (2005) Regional specialization of pyramidal cell structure in the cerebral cortex of the bush baby (Otolemur garnetti). Brain, Behavior, and Evolution 66:10-20.

Elston, E., A. Elston, V. Casagrande, and J. H. Kaas (2005) Areal specialization of pyramidal cell structure in the visual cortex of the tree shrew (Tupaia belangeri): a new task revealed in the evolution of cortical circuitry. Experimental Brain Research 163:13-20.

Xu, X., Bosking W. H., White, L. E., Fitzpatrick, D., & Casagrande, V.A. (2005) Functional organization of visual cortex in the prosimian bush baby revealed by optical imaging of intrinsic signals. Journal of Neurophysiology, 94:2748–2762.

Casagrande, V.A. and X. Xu (2004) Parallel visual pathways: a comparative perspective. In The Visual Neurosciences (L. Chalupa and John S. Werner, eds.) Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, pp. 494-506.

Wiencken, A. E., J. Mavity-Hudson, M. Kutsche, M. Schachner, and V. A. Casagrande (2004). The role of L1 in axon pathfinding and fasciculation. Cerebral Cortex (cover figure) 14:121-113.

Xu, X., C.E. Collins, P.M. Kaskan, I. Khaytin, J.H. Kaas, and V.A. Casagrande (2004). Optical imaging of visually evoked responses in prosimian primates reveals conserved features of the middle temporal visual area. Proceedings for the National Academy of Sciences 101(8): 2566-71.

Xu, X., W. Bosking, G. Sáry, J. Stefansic, D. Shima, and V. Casagrande (2004). Functional organization of visual cortex in the owl monkey. Journal of Neuroscience (cover figure), 24(28):6237– 6247.

Casagrande, V.A. and D. Royal (2003) Parallel visual pathways in a dynamic system. In Primate Vision (J. H. Kaas and C. E. Collins, eds.) Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, pp. 1-28.

Joos, K., L. Mawn, J. Shen, V. A. Casagrande (2003) Chronic and acute analysis of optic nerve sheath fenestration with the free electron laser in monkeys. Lasers in Surgery and Medicine 32:32-41.

Shostak, Y., Y. Ding, and V. A. Casagrande (2003) Neurochemical comparison of synaptic arrangements of parvocellular, magnocellular, and koniocellular geniculate pathways in owl monkey (Aotus trivirgatus) visual cortex. Journal of Comparative Neurology 456: 12-28.

Casagrande, V. A. and J.M. Ichida (2002) The visual cortex. In Physiology of the Eye (F. H. Adler, ed.), St. Louis, MO: C.V. Mosby, pp. 669-685.

Casagrande, V. A., X. Xu, and Gy. Sáry (2002) Static and dynamic views of visual cortical organization. In Changing Views of Cajal’s Neuron, vol.136, Progress in Brain Research (P. Rakic, E. Azmitia, J. deFelipe, C. Ribak and E. Jones, eds.), New York: Elsevier, pp. 389-408.

Ichida, J. M. and V. A. Casagrande (2002) Organization of the feedback pathway from striate cortex (V1) to the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) in a simian primate (Aotus trivirgatus). Journal of Comparative Neurology 454:272-283.

Lyon, D. C., X. Xu, V. A., Casagrande, J. D. Stefansic, D. Shima and J. H. Kaas (2002) Optical imaging reveals retinotopic organization of dorsal V3 in New World owl monkeys. Proceedings for the National Academy of Sciences 99 (24):15735-15742. .

Shostak, Y., Y. Ding, J. A. Mavity-Hudson, and V. A. Casagrande (2002) Cortical synaptic arrangements of the third visual pathway in three primate species: Macaca mulatta, Saimiri sciureus, and Aotus trivirgatus. Journal of Neuroscience 22:2885-2893.

Wiencken-Barger, A.E. and V. A. Casagrande (2002) Visual system development and neural activity. In Encyclopedia of the Human Brain (V. S. Ramachandran, ed.) San Diego: Academic, pp. 791-804.

Xu, X., A. B. Bonds and V. A. Casagrande (2002) Modeling receptive field structure of koniocellular, magnocellular, and paravocellular LGN cells in the owl monkey (Aotus trivigatus). Visual Neuroscience 19: 703-711

Xu, X., J. M. Ichida, Y. Shostak, A. B. Bonds, and V. A. Casagrande (2002) Are primate lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) cells really sensitive to orientation or direction? Visual Neuroscience 19: 97-108. Casagrande, V. A. and J.M. Ichida (2002) The lateral geniculate nucleus. In Physiology of the Eye (F. H. Adler, ed.), St. Louis, MO: C.V. Mosby, pp. 655-668.

Xu, X., J. M. Ichida, J. D. Allison, J. D. Boyd, A. B. Bonds and V. A. Casagrande (2001) A comparison of koniocellular, magnocellular and parvocellular receptive field properties in the lateral geniculate nucleus of the owl monkey (Aotus trivirgatus). The Journal of Physiology 531.1: 203-218.



Contact Information

Phone: (615) 343-4538; FAX: (615) 936-5673

Mailing Address: U3218 Learned Lab, 465 21st Ave S. (37232-8240)

Email: vivien.casagrande@vanderbilt.edu   


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