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The Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Colorado, continues the tradition of excellence outlined in our Mission Statement.

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John Thompson, PhD.


Assistant Professor University of Colorado

Contact Information

Address: 12700 E. 19th Ave., Box 8601 Aurora, CO 80045

Phone: 303-724-8581
E-mail: John.A.Thompson@UCDenver.edu

Research Interests:  Electrophysiology of deep brain stimulation, the neurobiology of initiation of movement. 


From single cell to whole organism, I have utilized several animal models and multiple neuroscientific techniques to explore a core question in neurophysiology: how does the brain transform sensory stimuli into motor output. I plan to integrate these techniques in order to address this question in human subjects undergoing deep brain stimulation surgery.

My lab will study a neural circuit involved in sensory-motor integration/transformation in humans that has significant clinical relevance for motor pathologies using the research techniques I’ve acquired during my training.  I plan to use a) behavioral paradigms: to control a subject’s goal and assess neuroanatomical manipulations, b) neuroanatomy: to trace the nodes of the neural circuits associated with the behavioral paradigm, c) electrophysiology: to record neuronal activity with high spatial and temporal resolution, d) computational methods: to mine and manipulate large data sets, uncover interesting patterns, and model neuro-behavioral correlations.

I plan to extend my recent work with in-vivo behaving recordings in the basal ganglia of mice to explore the role of the SNr (substantia nigra pars reticulata; a node in the basal ganglia) in transforming a sensory cue into a motor decision in humans.  Initially, I will have two main directions: 1) Determine the role that the SNr plays in transforming sensory cues into motor decisions. In this aim, I will record in the SNr while subjects perform a sensory discrimination motor task. 2) I will examine the plasticity of learned sensory-motor associations in the SNr, by using a sensory-motor task that compares visually guided vs. memory guided decision-making. 

Undergraduate: 
  • A.A. Lee University
  • B.S. Florida State University (Psychology)

Graduate School: 

  • Ph.D. Florida State University (Neuroscience)

Post Doctoral Fellowships: 

  • University of Washington Department of Otolaryngology
  • University of Colorado Department of Cell and Developmental Biology
  • University of Colorado Department of Physiology and Biophysics

Best Poster Presenter: Front Range Neuroscience Meeting (2012)
Best Poster Presenter: Rocky Mountain Regional Neuroscience Group (2012)
Graduate Student Travel Award: Society for Neuroscience (2007)
Best Oral Presenter: Southeast Nerve Net Conference (2007)
Best Poster Presenter: Southeast Nerve Net Conference (2006)
Berkley Fellow Award: Innovation in Research: FSU Program in Neuroscience (2006)

Please see Dr. Thompson's attached Curriculum Vitae for a complete listing of publications.