James Dooley, PhD
Assistant Research Scientist
Psychological and Brain Sciences
University of Iowa
Dr. Dooley is an Assistant Research Scientist at the University of Iowa in the laboratory of Dr. Mark Blumberg. In graduate school, he studied under the mentorship of Dr. Leah Krubitzer at the University of California, Davis, where he investigated the evolutionary origins of sensorimotor cortex, primarily by comparing the anatomy and thalamocortical connections of the South American marsupial, Monodelphis domestica, with placental mammals. This work suggests that primary motor and somatosensory cortex have a shared evolutionary history. Currently, he is continuing to investigate sensorimotor cortex, but from a developmental perspective. His research focuses on how self-generated movements—including myoclonic twitches, a behavior that is produced abundantly during REM sleep—drive development of the sensorimotor system. Investigating self-generated movements emphasizes the importance of early behavioral experience in driving neural activity that promotes brain development. Importantly, the patterning of activity driven by self-generated movements changes across development, enabling this activity to promote age-appropriate sensorimotor refinement.