Research Assistant Professor

Anna Huang

Anna’s primary interest is in understanding how neural circuits underlying higher-order cognitive functions, including attention, working memory, and decision-making, contribute to cognitive and behavioral impairments in psychopathologies, especially schizophrenia. Anna’s research program at Vanderbilt focuses on characterizing thalamocortical abnormalities in schizophrenia, both at the group (case-control differences) and individual levels, using a combination of structural and functional MRI, behavioral tasks, and computational modeling.

 Smaller thalamus volumes and abnormal thalamocortical connectivity are some of the most consistent findings in schizophrenia. Despite this, the field does not have a good understanding of how thalamocortical abnormalities contribute to the behavioral phenotypes in schizophrenia. In her time at Vanderbilt, Anna showed that thalamic structural abnormalities in schizophrenia are not uniform, but focused in higher-order thalamic regions, including the mediodorsal thalamus and pulvinar. She also characterized the development of thalamic nuclei and thalamocortical functional networks and used these neurodevelopmental models to identify which individuals with schizophrenia showed abnormal thalamic structure. Her current work investigates brain-behavior associations linking higher-order cognitive functions, including attention and decision-making, to specific thalamocortical networks (mediodorsal thalamus and pulvinar), informed by animal circuit studies.

 Anna holds a Ph.D. in Psychology with a specialty in Cognitive Neuroscience from Stony Brook University. Working with Dr. Hoi-Chung Leung, she examined how higher-order thalamocortical circuits contribute to information held in working memory in the healthy human brain. Outside the lab, Anna’s favorite activity is reading novels curled up on the couch with her two cats.



Tufts University School of Medicine
Neuroscience Department
136 Harrison Ave., Boston, MA 02111


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