Ziv Williams

Ziv Williams

Associate Professor of Neurosurgery
Ziv Williams

The major goal of the lab has been to investigate neural computations that underlie motor and cognitive behavior. Our lab has four main areas of focus.

Social decision making in primates - Social interactions are unique from most other behaviors in that they involve a highly dynamic interplay between
personal and group goals, and inherently require individuals to anticipate each other’s unknown intentions or covert state of mind. A major goal of the lab has
been to investigate how these computations are carried out within the brain at the single-neuronal level and how to selectively modify abnormal social
behavior through novel neuro-modulatory techniques.

Cognitive processing in humans - How higher executive functions are encoded in humans has remained poorly explored. Our group has developed novel
methods for recording well-isolated individual neurons in frontal cortical areas of human subjects undergoing planned neurosurgical procedures. These
approaches have provided an incredibly unique opportunity to study higher cognitive processes such as abstract rules in human subjects.

Neural population modeling - Our group has developed novel population recording and dynamic network modeling techniques that have allowed us us to test
a number of basic questions about how distributed neural populations within the brain encode learned and recalled information across a variety of memory

Neural modulation – Many neurological disorders such as motor paralysis and stroke have little or no current treatment. Our group is the first to develop a
functional cortical-spinal neural prosthetic “bypass” able to restore basic volitional motor control in a fully paralyzed limb. It is also the first to create a
concurrent brain-machine-interface able to simultaneously execute multiple motor plans in paralyzed subjects and to test novel deep brain stimulation
approaches for treating a variety of motor disorders. Our eventual goal is to translate some of these findings into eventual clinical use.

Contact Information

Massachusetts General Hospital
70 Blossom Street, Thier Research Building

Boston, MA 02114
p: 617-643-4102