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Hillary R. RodmanAssociate Professor


Dr. Rodman received a B.A. in Psychology from Yale University in 1981 and a Ph.D. in Psychology and Neuroscience from Princeton University in 1986. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship in comparative neurobiology at UC San Diego and a position as a research staff scientist at Princeton before joining the Emory faculty in 1995.


Research Interests

Comparative organization, development and plasticity of the visual system and brain more generally. Circadian rhythms and sleep, especially their implications for evolution of sensory systems and relevant brain circuits. 

Research Areas

  1. Reorganization after damage to visual and cognitive brain systems early in development
    1. Neural basis of ‘blindsight’.
      What neural circuits underlie visual awareness? In humans, blindness after damage to primary visual cortex (V1) can be followed by recovery of various rudimentary visual capacities that are typically not experienced as vision (‘blindsight’). Amazingly, if the damage is sustained early in life, some awareness of the stimuli can also be present. Earlier, my collaborators and I showed that nonhuman primates (monkeys) exhibit parallel phenomena. Other work to date in our lab suggests that ‘blindsight’ is a function of distributed changes across a large array of subcortical and cortical regions. Our ongoing work in this area uses anatomical methods to identify changes in specific neuronal circuits following early V1 damage, focusing on chemically specific populations in the thalamus and on the cortical regions which contribute to conscious perception of stimuli in intact brains.
    2. Effects of early damage to the hippocampus on inhibitory circuits of the forebrain.
      How does early damage to vulnerable brain structures have lasting effects on other regions important for memory and social cognition? We are also collaborating with the Bachevalier lab at Yerkes to study how the brain reorganizes after damage to the hippocampus in infancy in a monkey model of neurodevelopmental disorders. This research focuses on identifying changes in portions of the frontal cortex that have been implicated in the etiology and expression of deficits in schizophrenia. Our ongoing work in this areas focuses on shifts in inhibitory circuits in the frontal lobe and other structures.
  2. Comparative organization of vision and the visual system
    How do the brains of highly visual species such as squirrels differ from those of less visual species (rats and hamsters) regarding organization of main visual structures? Comparative neuroscience seeks to identify components of brain systems which make up the ‘common plan’, to identify variations in brain structure that correlate with species and individual differences in behavior, and help understand evolutionary relationships. Our studies to date show that highly visual rodents (ground squirrels) have an overall organization of the visual cortical mantle that is strikingly similar to that of diurnal primates, along with compelling differences. We ask questions such as whether rodents show cortical and subcortical specializations for form and motion vision similar to those in primates, and how vision and behavior are expressed differently in nocturnal vs. diurnal species and individuals.
  3. Lighting, time of day, and circadian influences on behavior
    How do ambient lighting and individual activity patterns impact psychological states through specific visual pathways? How might differential exposure to light during development help ‘organize’ sensory and affective brain circuits and behaviors? Recently, we found both time-of-day and lighting effects on the perception of faces by human subjects. We are beginning studies using experimental manipulations of lighting in gerbils (which show individual differences in activity patterns similar to human chronotypes) to test hypotheses about the effects of different types and timing of lighting on emotional behavior and activation of relevant brain circuits.

Current Projects

  • Effects of ambient light on the development of brain and behavior (gerbils)
  • Reorganization of frontal parvalbumin populations after early hippocampal damage (monkeys)
  • Comparative organization of rodent visual thalamus (squirrels, other rodents)
  • Interactions of music, music experience, and sleep (humans)


  • PSYC 190: Freshman Seminar: Brain Challenge and Sports Performance
  • PSYC 209: Perception and Action
  • PSYC 324 / NBB 370: Sleep and Dreaming, Brain and Mind
  • PSYC 420WR: Psychobiology of Visual Perception
  • PSYC 550: Fundamentals of Systems Neuroscience
  • PSYC 770R: Neurobiology & Applications of Sleep and Circadian Rhythms