David A. Ziegler, Ph.D.
UCSF - Mission Bay
Sandler Neuroscience Research Building, Rm 505
MC 0444, 675 Nelson Rising Lane
San Francisco, CA 94158
overarching goal of my research is to unmask the neural mechanisms that account
for age-related changes in cognitive control processes and to translate these
neuroscience findings into therapeutic interventions to alleviate these
impairments. My desire to understand how our brains control our behavior
started when I was an undergraduate at Denison University in Granville, Ohio. I
soon became interested in learning about how neural systems could be disrupted
by disease and degeneration in humans. These questions drew me to Suzanne
Corkin’s lab in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT. In my
doctoral dissertation, I studied how healthy aging affects brain anatomy and
physiology and how these neural changes impact cognitive control processes. To
pursue these questions, I took a multimodal neuroimaging approach, embracing
structural MRI, DTI, fMRI, and MEG, and fostered collaborations in domains
bridging clinical, systems, cognitive, and computational neuroscience. As a
result, I showed that degeneration of white matter pathways disrupts top-down oscillatory activity, leading to impairments on
tasks that engage prefrontal control networks. These studies furthered our understanding of how
healthy aging affects cognitive control systems and provided new insight into
the normal function of top-down and bottom-up attentional processes.
Research Description: While
conducting my dissertation research, I became intrigued with the notion that
deficits in attention processes could be treated using novel cognitive
neurotherapeutic approaches. I am now pursuing this interest as a postdoctoral
fellow in Adam Gazzaley’s lab at UCSF. My current research objectives are 1) to
unmask the neurophysiological mechanisms underlying rapid fluctuations of attention
and top-down modulation, 2) to understand how these processes change with age,
and 3) to assess the capacity for plasticity of attention by challenging the
limits of information processing using adaptive, feedback-based cognitive
Ziegler DA, Ashourian P, Griffith EY, Hansen LA, Hämäläinen M,
Corkin S. (in review). Age-related changes in white matter integrity
disrupt top-down modulation of oscillations during visual search.
Ziegler DA, Ashourian P , Wonderlick JS, Hansen LA, Koppuzha CC, Scherzer CR, Corkin S. (in preparation). Neuroanatomical underpinnings of formed and benign hallucinations in idiopathic Parkinson’s disease.
DA and Augustinack JC. (in press). Harnessing advances
in structural MRI to enhance research on Parkinson’s disease. Imaging in Medicine.
Ziegler DA, Wonderlick JS, Ashourian P, Hansen LA, Young JC,
Murphy AJ, Kopuzha CK, Growdon JH, Corkin S. (2013). Substantia
nigra volume loss before basal forebrain degeneration in early
Parkinson’s disease. JAMA Neurology, 70(2):241-7. [pdf] [pubmed]
O'Brien LM, Ziegler DA, Herbert MR, Deutsch CK, Frazier JA.
(2011). Adjustment for head size differences in volumetric MRI studies:
theoretical issues and practical implications. Psychiatry Research:
Neuroimaging, 193(2): 113-122. [pdf]
Ziegler DA, Piquet O, Salat DH, Prince K, Connally E, Corkin S.
(2010). Cognition in healthy aging is related to regional white matter
integrity, but not cortical thickness. Neurobiol Aging, 31(11): 1912-26.
Ziegler DA, Pritchett DL, Hosseini-Varnamkhasti P, Corkin S,
Hämäläinen M, Moore CI, Jones SR. (2010). Transformations in oscillatory
activity and evoked responses in primary somatosensory cortex in middle
age: A combined computational neural modeling and MEG study. Neuroimage,
52(3): 897-912. [pdf][pubmed]
Wonderlick JS, Ziegler DA, Hosseini-Varnamkhasti P, Bakkour A,
van der Kouwe A, Triantafyllou C, Corkin S, Dickerson BC. (2009).
Reliability of MRI-derived cortical and subcortical morphometric
measures: Effects of pulse sequence, voxel geometry, and parallel
imaging. Neuroimage, 44(4): 1324-33. [pdf]
O’Brien LM, Ziegler DA, Deutsch CK, Kennedy DN, Goldstein J,
Seidman L, Hodge S, Makris N, Caviness VS, Frazier J, Herbert MR.
(2006). Adjustment for whole brain and cranial size in volumetric brain
studies: a review of common adjustment factors and statistical methods.
Harvard Review of Psychiatry, 14. 141-151. [pdf][pubmed]
Herbert MR, Ziegler DA, Deutsch CK, O'Brien LM, Kennedy DN,
Filipek PA, Bakardjiev A, Hodgson J, Takeoka M, Makris N, Caviness VS
Jr. (2005). Brain asymmetries in autism and developmental language
disorder: A nested multi-level analysis. Brain, 128. 213-226. [pdf][pubmed]
Herbert MR, Ziegler DA. (2005). Volumetric neuroimaging and
low-dose early-life exposures: Loose coupling of
pathogenesis-brain-behavior links. Neurotoxicology, 26(4): 565-572. [pdf][pubmed]
Herbert MR, Ziegler DA, Makris N, Filipek PA, Normandin JJ,
Sanders HA, Kennedy DN, Caviness VS Jr. (2004). Localization of white
matter volume increase in autism and developmental language disorder.
Annals of Neurology, 55. 530-540. [pdf][pubmed]
Makris N, Gasic GP, Seidman, LJ, Goldstein JM, Gastfriend DR, Elman I,
Albaugh DM, Hodge SM, Ziegler DA, Sheahan F, Caviness VS Jr,
Tsuang MT, Kennedy DN, Hyman SE, Rosen BR, Brieter HC. (2004). Decreased
absolute amygdala volume in cocaine addicts. Neuron, 44. 729-740. [pdf][pubmed]
De Fosse L, Hodge SM, Makris N, Kennedy DN, Caviness VS Jr, McGrath L,
Steele S, Ziegler DA, Herbert MR, Frazier J, Tager-Flusberg H,
Harris GJ. (2004).Language-association cortex asymmetry in autism and
specific language impairment. Annals of Neurology, 56(6). 757-766. [pdf][pubmed]
Herbert MR, Ziegler DA, Deutch CK, O’Brien LM, Lange NT,
Bakardjiev A, Hodgson J Adrien KT, Steele S, Makris N, Kennedy DN,
Harris GJ, Caviness VS Jr. (2003). Dissociations of cerebral cortex,
subcortical, and cerebral white matter volumes in autistic boys. Brain,
126 (5). 1182-1192. [pdf][pubmed]
Herbert MR, Ziegler DA, Makris N, Bakardiev A, Hodgson J, Adrien
KT, Kennedy DN, Harris GJ, & Caviness VS. (2003). Larger brain and white
matter volumes in children with developmental language disorder.
Developmental Science, 6(4). F11-F22. [pdf]
Herbert MR, Harris GJ, Adrien KT, Ziegler DA, Makris N, Kennedy
DN, Lange NT, Chabris, CF, Bakardjiev A, Hodgson J, Takeoka M,
Tager-Flusberg H, Caviness VS Jr. (2002). Abnormal asymmetry in language
association cortex in autism. Annals of Neurology, 52. 588-596. [pdf][pubmed]