Avniel Singh Ghuman

  • Assistant Professor, Department of Neurological Surgery
  • Director, MEG Research

Current Research

Dr. Ghuman's auditory research involves MEG recordings in tinnitus patients. Dr. Ghuman's current studies are exploring the neural basis of high level visual processing to help answer the question of how our brain turns what falls upon our eyes into meaning. In the past year, his work has helped address a debate that has been raging for over 150 years regarding the neural basis of reading. Specifically, some of the most important neuroscientists and neurologists of the 19th century, including Jules Dejerine, Jean-Martin Charcot, and Carl Wernicke, debated about whether or not the brain contained a visual center for words. This debate has persisted until today, recently centering around a part of the brain called the left mid-fusiform gyrus, that some have labeled the “visual word form area.” Using a set of methods that a Laurent Cohen called a methodological “tour de force” in his commentary on the work in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, work from Dr. Ghuman’s lab demonstrated some of the strongest evidence to date that this area is in fact the visual center for words. As part of this study, Dr. Ghuman’s team was able to show that what word a person is reading at a particular moment can be decoded from the activity in this area and that disrupting its activity causes a profound disturbance in a person’s ability to read.

In other research, Dr. Ghuman’s team discovered that stimulation to the left ventromedial temporal cortex caused associative visual phenomena, reminiscent of complex visual hallucinations. This area has been linked to visual hallucinations in a host of disorders, including Parkinson’s disease, stroke, and epilepsy. This discovery provides a potential link between disruptions in the associative visual processing this area is responsible for and visual hallucinations.


Selected Recent Publications

Morett LM, O’Hearn K, Luna B, Ghuman AS. Altered Gesture and Speech Production in Autism Spectrum Disorders Detract from In-Person Communication Quality. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 46(3):998-1012, 2016.

Alhourani A, McDowell MM, Randazzo M, Wozny T, Kondylis E, Lipski W, Beck S, Karp JF, Ghuman AS, Richardson RM. Network Effects of Deep Brain Stimulation. Journal of Neurophysiology 114(4):2105-2117, 2015.

Ghuman AS, Brunet NM, Li Y, Konecky RO, Pyles JA, Walls SA, Destefino V, Wang W, Richardson, R.M. (2014). Dynamic encoding of face information in the human fusiform gyrus. Nature Communications 5:5672, 2014.

Hwang K, Ghuman AS, Manoach DS, Jones S, Luna B. Cortical Neurodynamics of Inhibitory Control. Journal of Neuroscience 34(29):9551-9561, 2013.

Ghuman AS, McDaniel JR, Martin A. A Wavelet-Based Method for Measuring the Oscillatory Dynamics of Resting-State Functional Connectivity in MEG. NeuroImage56(1):69-77, 2011.

Kverega K, Ghuman AS, Kassam KS, Aminoff EM, Hämäläinen MS, Chaumon M, Bar M. Neural Synchronization in the Contextual Association Network. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 108(8):3389-3394, 2011.

Ghuman AS, McDaniel JR, Martin A. Face Adaptation Without A Face. Current Biology20(1):32-36, 2010.

Ghuman AS, Bar M, Dobbins I, Schnyer D. The Effects of Priming on Frontal-Temporal Communication. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 105(24):8405-8409, 2008.

A complete list of Dr. Ghuman's publications can be reviewed through the National Library of Medicine's publication database.


Media Appearances

Ability to Recognize Faces Grows With Age, Study Finds
January 5, 2017
The Wall Street Journal

Epilepsy Research Leads To New Insights Into How Our Brains Read
August 16, 2016
WESA Radio Pittsburgh Tech Report

Study shows how words are represented in the brain
July 20, 2016

Decoding Reading in the Brain
July 19, 2016
Cognitive Neuroscience Society

“Reading” The Reading Mind
July 8, 2016