|National Institutes of Health||2003
||2006||National Research Service Award|
||2002||Richard Christie Memorial Award|
A theoretician and experimentalist in neuroscience, Ezequiel Morsella is interested in the differences in the brain between the conscious and unconscious aspects of action control. He carried out Ph.D. training at Columbia University and postdoctoral training at Yale University. Since his pre-college days, he has been focusing on the nature of the conscious (e.g., urges and working memory) and unconscious brain mechanisms in human action control, thanks in large part to stumbling across a pile of old books by Hebb and Hull. As an undergraduate, he was mentored by Robert B. Tallarico at the University of Miami (B.A., 1996, Phi Beta Kappa, Cum Laude).
Following his post-doctoral training, he was hired as an Assistant Professor of Neuroscience at San Francisco State University and as an Assistant Adjunct Professor in the Department of Neurology at the University of California, San Francisco. He is boardmember of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Institute of Cognitive Neurology (INECO; Buenos Aires) and Associate Director of the Center for Human Culture and Behavior at SFSU. In 2010, his research was recognized by the committee of the virtual Nobel prize in psychology/neuroscience. He has served as an Early Career Reviewer for NIH. He has over 50 publications.
One overarching aim of his laboratory is to home in on the basic neural and cognitive processes that are responsible for conscious states, in order to reveal how the brain yields adaptive action and also maladaptive action, as in the case of some neurological disorders. Investigations at the laboratory tend to fall into three primary research goals: to home in on the (a) neural circuits, (b) cognitive processing, and (c) mental representations associated with conscious states. The research in his lab is untraditional because it works backward from overt action to the conscious and unconscious central processes responsible for it, rather than work forward from an external perceptual stimulus to central processing. In the lab, 'response interference paradigms' are used to learn about the subjective aspects of action production (e.g., urges) and 'delayed action tasks' are used to learn about the subjective aspects of working memory-based action control (e.g., imagery, sense of agency).
In collaboration with Adam Gazzaley, John Bargh, Jeremy Gray, and Mark Geisler, his lab is evaluating theoretical developments (e.g., Morsella's Passive Frame Theory, a target article in Behavioral and Brain Sciences) regarding consciousness and the brain using behavioral and neuroimaging techniques. In addition, with the assistance of the neurologist Stephen Krieger and colleagues at the UCSF Memory and Aging center, the lab is examining the implications of the theory and the lab's research has for disorders of awareness and disorders involving action selection (e.g., frontotemporal dementia).
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