Ernest J. Nordeen

Ernie Nordeen

Contact Information

  • Meliora 105
  • Brain & Cognitive Sciences
  • University of Rochester
  • Rochester, NY 14627-0268
  • (585) 275-8453 (office)

Office Hours

By appointment.


Research Overview

Throughout life, neural systems adapt in response to change. In fact, this neural flexibility is essential for maintaining behavioral stability. For instance, motor systems adapt when feedback from an animal's actions fails to produce the expected outcome. Neural signals reporting the disagreement between actual and expected feedback promote such adaptive behavioral change by prompting a functional re-mapping that can range from simple modifications in the gain of synaptic connections, to wholesale rewiring of well-mapped connections.

Our lab studies how adaptive plasticity occurs within a vocal motor system when feedback from an animal's vocalizations fails to match learned sensory-motor representations. In songbirds, as in humans, the stable production of learned vocalizations depends on normal auditory feedback. Altering or eliminating such feedback in adults produces gradual and long lasting changes in vocal performance. We study the neural processes that drive these feedback-based changes in vocal behavior, focusing on striatal-thalamic-cortical circuits that have been implicated in evaluating and adjusting learned motor behavior. The studies combine behavioral, neuroanatomical, and cellular analyses to identify brain regions and synaptic processes that promote adaptive changes in vocal motor behavior.


Selected Publications

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Research Collaborators


Research Support

My research has been supported by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Science Foundation, the Sloan Foundation, and the Schmitt Program for Integrative Neuroscience





Current Students & Research Associates

  • Aadavai Sridharan
  • Dr. David Holtzman

Former Graduate Students and Postdocs

  • Dr. Farida Sohrabji: Assoc. Professor, Texas A&M
  • Dr. Sandra Aamodt: Senior Editor, Nature Neuroscience
  • Dr. Michael Burek: Merck Pharmeceuticals
  • Dr. Mark Basham: Asst Professor, Metropolitan State College of Denver
  • Dr. Bonnie Ward: Post-doc, Wellesley College
  • Dr. Luisa Scott: Post-doc, U. of Texas, Austin
  • Dr. Julie Heinrich: Post-doc, U. Notre Dame
  • Marla Bruns (Master's student): MD/PhD program, Syracuse U.
  • Dr. Tryambak Singh (Postdoc): Assoc. Professor, Baranas Hindu U.