Anthony Zador, MD, PhD

Alle Davis Harris Professor of Biology
Program Chair in Neuroscience

My laboratory uses a combination of physiological, molecular, behavioral and computational approaches to study the cortical mechanisms underlying auditory decision making in rodents. Understanding these processes will help us understand the neural basis of cognition, and may also help us develop treatments for cognitive disorders.

More recently, I have started on an project to "sequence the connectome." More on that below.

I have been at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory since 1999. As a graduate student I worked with Christof Koch (Caltech) and Tom Brown (Yale), and as a postdoc with Chuck Stevens (Salk Institute). I have published some papers and have also founded some meetings, including the annual Computational and Systems Neuroscience (COSYNE) meeting, which now draws over 600 participants.

Recent publications (click here for a full list with PDFs)

  • Marblestone A., Daugharthy E., Kalhor R., Peikon I., Kebschull J., Shipman S., Mischchenko Y., Lee J. Kording K., Boyden E., Zador A. and Church G. (2014) "Rosetta Brains:A Strategy for Molecularly -Annotated Connectomics" arXiv:1404.5103

  • Peikon, I., Gizatullina, D. and Zador, A. (2014) "In vivo generation of DNA sequence diversity for cellular barcoding" Nucleic Acids Research, doi:10.1093/nar/gku604

  • Jaramillo, S., Borges, K., and Zador, A.M. (2014) Auditory Thalamus and Auditory Cortex Are Equally Modulated by Context during Flexible Categorization of Sounds. J. Neursoci., 34(15): 5291-5301.

  • Znamenskiy, P. and Zador, A. (2013) "Corticostriatal neurones in auditory cortex drive decisions during auditory descrimination" Nature, 497:482-486

  • Zador, A., Dubnau, J.,Oyibo, H., Zhan, H., Gang, C. and Peikon, I. (2012) "Sequencing the connectome." Plos Biology, 10:e1001411

    Circuits underlying auditory decisions: From Synapses to Behavior

    Research Overview

    My laboratory is interested in how neural circuits underlie decision making, particularly in the auditory cortex. To address these questions, we use a combination of computational, electrophysiological and imaging techniques at the molecular, synaptic, cellular, circuit and behavioral levels.

    Research in the lab is organized into two broad areas. On the physiology side, we study how the cortex represents sounds, how these representations are converted into actions, and how they are modulated by attention, motivation and other cognitive variables. We mostly study rodents (both rats and mice) performing two-alternative choice tasks in which the subject uses sounds and other stimuli to make a decision. Our behavioral approaches are inspired by work in awake behaving primates, but we use rodents as the model system, we can exploit the full armamentarium of modern cellular and molecular neuroscience techniques.

    The second research area is the development of a technique to sequence the connectome. The basic idea is that DNA sequencing technologies are fast and cheap, and getting faster and cheaper by the day---the race is for the "thousand dollar genome." So our idea is to convert the problem of the connectome (ie figuring out which neurons are connected to which other neurons) into a problem amenable to sequencing. See my recent Plos Biology review "Sequencing the connectome" for details, as well as two other papers laying out the vision here "Conneconomics: The Economics of Large-Scale Neural Connections" and "Rosetta Brains:A Strategy for Molecularly -Annotated Connectomics"


  • Click here to see a recent interview I gave about my work to Big Think.

  • "The Rat Pack" Nature, 465:282-283. [This is about me, not by me]

    Zador Lab People