Hillary R. Rodman

Associate Professor of Psychology

Office: 381 Psychology Building

Phone: 404-727-2391

Fax: 404-727-0372

Email: hrrodma@emory.edu

Additional Contact Information

Mailing Address:

Department of Psychology

36 Eagle Row
Emory University

Atlanta, GA 30322


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 research staff scientist at Princeton before joining the Emory faculty in 1995.

Courses Currently Taught


My research focuses on the development, plasticity and evolution of brain systems that govern high-level visual abilities such as object recognition and the awareness of stimuli.

Comparative organization of vision

Why and how are individual brains and brains of different animals similar and different? 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. Recently, we have also begun addressing a different component of visual capacity, namely the use of light to control circadian rhythms and thus influence individual differences in behavior across the day-night cycle.

Questions we are addressing or plan to research include:

  1. Do rodents show cortical specializations for motion and form vision analogous to visual areas MT and IT of primates?
  2. 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?
  3. How is the circadian system organized in nocturnal vs. diurnal species?
  4. How are individual differences in activity at different times of day (eg ‘early bird’ vs. ‘night owl’ behavioral patterns) reflected in underlying differences in neural circuitry?
Visual plasticity and ‘blindsight’

What gives us our awareness of what we see? How is experience compromised by brain damage? In humans, blindness after damage to primary visual cortex (V1) is sometimes followed by recovery of reflex-like visual capacity (‘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.

Current projects in animals use 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. I also collaborate with researchers in the Departments of Rehabilitation Medicine and Neurology to study human patients with visual system damage using fMRI and behavioral techniques.

Questions we are currently addressing or plan to research include:

  1. Are there specialized types of neurons in the thalamus which survive damage to the cortex, and how are they recruited differentially after lesions in infancy or later in life?
  2. What individual variations are seen in patterns of reorganization, and how do they relate to behavioral differences?
  3. Is recovered vision after cortical damage the property of specific structures and cell populations, or more a property of an interconnected network spanning much of the brain?
  4. What individual and sex differences are present in the subcortical substrates of vision?
Other research interests

Sleep, especially individual differences in sleep timing and behavior, and neural mechanisms. Face and object recognition and their development.


Rodman, H.R. (in press 2006) Behavioral and neural alterations following V1 damage in immature primates. In: S. G. Lomber and J.J. Eggermont (eds.), Reprogramming the cerebral cortex: plasticity following central and peripheral lesions. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Rodman, H.R. (2004) Sight and insight: review of The Primate Visual System edited by Jon H. Kaas and Christine E. Collins, Boca Raton, CRC Press, 2004. Am. J. Primatology 63: 251-255.

Major, D.E., Rodman, H.R., Libedinsky, C., and Karten, H.J. (2003) Pattern of retinal projections in the California ground squirrel (Spermophilus beecheyi): an anterograde tracing study using cholera toxin. Journal of Comparative Neurology 463: 317-340.

Azzopardi, P., Fallah, M., Gross, C.G. and Rodman, H.R. (2003) Response latencies of neurons in visual areas MT and MST of monkeys with striate cortex lesions. Neuropsychologia 41: 1738-1756.

Rodman, H.R. (2003) Development of temporal lobe circuits for object recognition: data and theoretical perspectives from nonhuman primates. In: B. Hopkins and S. Johnson (Eds.) Advances in Infancy Research: Neurobiology of Infant Vision. Praeger/ Greenwood Press, pp. 105-145.

Rodman, H.R., Sorenson, K.M., Shim, A.J., and Hexter, D.P. (2001) Calbindin immunoreactivity in the geniculo-extrastriate system of the macaque: implications for heterogeneity in the koniocellular pathway and recovery from cortical damage. Journal of Comparative Neurology 431: 168-181.

Sorenson, K.M., and Rodman, H.R. (1999) A transient geniculo-extrastriate pathway in macaques? Implications for ‘blindsight’. Neuroreport 10: 3295-3299.

Rodman, H.R. (1999) Face recognition. In: The MIT Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science. Cambridge: MIT Press, pp. 309-311.

Rodman, H.R., and Moore, T. (1997) Development and plasticity of extrastriate visual cortex in monkeys. In: Kaas, J.H., Rockland, K., and Peters, A. (eds.) Cerebral Cortex Vol. 12: Extrastriate cortex. New York: Plenum, pp. 639-672.

Sorenson, K.M., and Rodman, H.R. (1996) The lateral geniculate nucleus does not project to area TE in infant or adult macaques. Neuroscience Letters 217: 5-8.

Moore, T., Rodman, H.R., Repp, A.B., and Gross, C.G. (1995) Localization of visual stimuli after striate cortex damage in monkeys: parallels with human blindsight. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 92: 8215-8218.

Rodman, H.R., and Karten, H.J. (1995) Laminar distribution and sources of catecholaminergic input to the optic tectum of the pigeon (Columba livia). Journal of Comparative Neurology 359: 424-442.

Rodman, H.R. (1994) Development of inferior temporal cortex in the monkey. Cerebral Cortex 5: 484-498.

Rodman, H.R., Skelly, J.P., and Gross, C.G. (1991) Stimulus selectivity and state dependence of activity in inferior temporal cortex in infant monkeys. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 88: 7572-7575.

Rodman, H.R., Gross, C.G., and Albright, T.D. (1990) Afferent basis of visual response properties in area MT of the macaque: II. Effects of superior colliculus removal. Journal of Neuroscience 10: 1154-1164.

Rodman, H.R., and Albright, T.D. (1989) Single-unit analysis of pattern-motion selective properties in the middle temporal visual area (MT). Experimental Brain Research 75: 53-64.