Dr. Marty Woldorff is a Professor in the departments of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, and Neurobiology. He arrived at Duke in the fall of 1999.
Dr. Woldorff did his undergraduate work at Cornell University and U.C. Berkeley, receiving a Bachelors degree in Physics and Applied Mathematics from Berkeley. He received a Ph.D. in Cognitive Neuroscience from UC San Diego in 1989, gaining his training under the tutelage of Dr. Steve Hillyard.
Professor Woldorff's main research interest has been in the neural underpinnings of attention and perception. His early work employed event-related potentials (ERPs), magnetoencephalography (MEG), and structural MRI to reveal that strongly focused auditory attention can affect auditory sensory processing in primary auditory cortex as early as 20 ms post-stimulus (Woldorff et al., 1987; Woldorff and Hillyard, 1991; Woldorff et al., 1993). Related work included the discovery that strongly focused attention can heavily attenuate the mismatch negativity, an ERP wave elicited by deviant auditory stimuli in an otherwise repeating auditory sequence, thereby providing important evidence against the strong automaticity of auditory sensory feature analysis (Woldorff et al., 1991; Woldorff et al., 1998).
In 1992, Dr. Woldorff went to the Research Imaging Center in San Antonio to pursue the study of cognitive processes using multiple brain imaging methodologies. There he headed up the ERP division and spearheaded the integration of hemodynamic brain imaging data (e.g., positron emission tomography [PET] and functional MRI [fMRI]) with electrophysiological recordings (e.g., ERPs). His research there included the use of this multi-methodological integrative approach to study visual attention, which led to work that helped map out both the timing and location of early visual spatial attention effects and their retinotopic organization (Woldorff et al., 1997, 1999).
Dr. Woldorff has also been involved in various projects developing and advancing the methodologies used for measuring brain activity. One example involves the fact that the study of attention and various other cognitive neuroscience questions is often facilitated by, or even requires, fast stimulus presentation rates. At fast rates in ERP studies, however, the ERP brain responses to successive stimuli overlap in time, thereby distorting the ERP averages. Part of Dr. Woldorff's earlier work involved analyzing and modeling such distortion and developing a deconvolution technique to remove it (the "Adjar" technique, Woldorff, 1993). More recently, this work also has turned out to be highly relevant to recent developments in event-related fMRI, and Dr. Woldorff has continued to be involved in the development of these methods for fMRI (Burock et al., 1998; Hinrichs et al., 2000; Woldorff et al., 2004).
For his work on early auditory attention and on the development of deconvolution techniques for fast-rate ERP studies, Dr. Woldorff was awarded the Sam Sutton award for Early Distinguished Contribution to Event-related Potentials and Cognition at the Tenth International Conference on ERPs [EPIC 10] in Eger, Hungary in 1992.
Dr. Woldorff has had several ongoing collaborations with researchers at other institutions. These include a long-time collaboration with researchers in Magdeburg, Germany, that has focused on the use of fMRI, MEG, and EEG to study auditory and visual attentional and perceptual (Baumgart et al., 1998; Woldorff et al., 1999; Hinrichs et al., 2000; Noesselt et al., 2002; Schoenfeld et al., 2003; Krebs et al., 2010). An additional ongoing collaboration with Dr. Anders Dale and colleagues at Harvard involves new ways of performing fMRI experiments and integrating fMRI and ERP data for studies of perception and attention (e.g., Burock et al., 1998; Hinrichs et al., 2000; Woldorff et al., 2004).
Dr. Woldorff's work at Duke has been focused on the continuing study of auditory, visual, and multisensory attention and perception, using a combination of methodologies, including behavioral measures, ERPs, MEG, fMRI, and electrophysiological source modeling. Recent work from his lab includes systems-levels studies of the control of visual spatial attention (Woldorff et al., 2004; Grent-‘t-Jong & Woldorff, 2007; Weissman et al., 2006, 2009), the influence of attention on multisensory processing (Talsma et al., 2005, 2006, 2007; Senkowski et al., 2007), the spread of attention across a multisensory object (Busse et al., 2005), and the interactions of attention, stimulus conflict, and cognitive control (Weissman et al., 2004, 2005, 2008; Appelbaum et al., 2009). Dr. Woldorff’s work also includes continued development of new approaches and methods, with a recent focus on developing new ways to analyze and integrate EEG and fMRI data collected simultaneously.
For the pursuit of this research at Duke, Dr. Woldorff is currently funded by a grant from NIMH for the study of attentional control and conflict processing using a combination of ERPs and fMRI and by a grant from NINDS for the study of attention in multisensory environments. He is also a project P.I. on an NINDS program grant based at the Brain Imaging and Analysis Center at the Duke University Medical Center studying the interactions of social perception and attention.
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