Caterina Gratton PhD

Northwestern University

Dr. Gratton is currently an Assistant Professor in the Psychology Department at Northwestern University. She received her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of California, Berkeley in 2013, where she worked with Mark D’Esposito and Michael Silver and her B.S. from the University of Illinois in Psychology and Neuroscience in 2008. She was a postdoctoral fellow with Steve Petersen at Washington University in St. Louis. Dr. Gratton was recently named an American Psychological Society “Rising Star”. Dr. Gratton studies the organization and function of human brain networks. Her research demonstrates that the organizational properties of brain networks have important consequences for how humans accomplish complex tasks and how the brain re-organizes after damage. These findings have implications for how we understand the multi-level complexity of human brain function. At every waking moment the human brain absorbs information, selectively filters it, and integrates it into perceptions and memories to achieve goals at many different time-scales. These processes rely on the unique functions of individual brain regions as well as on coordinated activity across regions organized into large-scale networks, but it is not yet clear how this coordination is achieved. In her lab’s research, Dr. Gratton is interested in characterizing how human brain networks are organized and how they allow humans to flexibly exert control over behavior in the service of different goal-directed behaviors. Furthermore, she is interested in how these processes break down with damage and disease. The Gratton lab addresses these questions through three interrelated lines of research on (1) large-scale networks and hubs, (2) the role of top-down control systems, and (3) top-down modulation of visual processing. Dr. Gratton uses a multifaceted approach, adopting a variety of methods, including functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and electroencephalography (EEG) to track the spatial and dynamic characteristics of brain activity, and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), recordings from patients, and pharmacological manipulations to study perturbations of brain systems. Her work employs sophisticated analysis techniques to provide a quantitative description of brain function, using functional connectivity and graph theoretical measures to characterize brain networks, and encoding models to characterize tuning within brain regions. This broad toolkit enables her to address novel systems-level questions about the organization of human brain networks, their role in top-down control, and how they break down with damage.