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  • Robert Rafal, Adjunct Professor

    Adjunct Professor
    Senior Scientist


    ​I am neurologist with a special interest in the rehabilitation of people whose behavior and mental life has been disrupted by disease of the brain. My research has been driven by the need to understand the plight of the patients under my care. The goal of my lab is to understand how phylogenetically older subcortical circuits mediating vision and eye movements are integrated with the cerebral cortex to provide a continuity of perceptual experience and coherent behaviour, how disintegration of these dynamic interactions contribute to disability in after brain injury, and how re-organisation of these circuits permits recovery. More recently my research has employed diffusion imaging tractography to investigate subcortical pathways that contribute to the processing of visual stimuli triggering emotional responses like fear and disgust. Our research employs neuroimaging methods to analyze brain lesions in patients, and connectivity between brain areas in health and disease, as well as non-invasive brain stimulation experiments.

    Recent Publications

    van Koningsbruggen MG, Gabay S, Sapir A, Henik A, Rafal RD. (2010) Hemispheric asymmetry in the remapping and maintenance of visual saliency maps; A TMS study. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience. 22:1730-1738.

    Chica AB, Klein RM,. Rafal, RD & Hopfinger JB. Endogenous saccade preparation does not produce Inhibition of Return:  Failure to replicate Rafal, Calabresi, Brennan, & Sciolto (1989). Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance (in press).

    van der Stigchel S, Arend I, van Koningsbruggen M, Rafal RD. (2010) Oculomotor integration in patients with a pulvinar lesion. Neuropsychologia 48:3497–3504.

    Arend, I, Rafal R, Ward, R. (2011) Temporal feature integration in the right parietal cortex. Neuropsychologia 49:1788-1793

    Shore DM, Rafal R, Parkinson J. (2011) Appetitive motivational deficits in individuals with Parkinson's disease. Movement Disorders 26:1887-1892.

    Song, H-Y, Rafal RD, McPeek RM. (2011) Deficits in reach target selection after superior colliculus inactivation.. PNAS 108:E1433-1440.

    Bultitude J, Rafal R, Tinker C. (2012) Moving forward with prisms: Sensory-motor adaptation improves gait initiation in Parkinson's disease. Frontiers in Neurology 3:132.

    Leek, E.C.; d'Avossa, G.; Tainturier, M-J.; Roberts, D.J.; Yuen, S.L.; Hu, M.; & Rafal, R. (2012) Impaired integration of object knowledge and visual input in a case of ventral simultanagnosia with bilateral damage to area V4. Cognitive Neuropsychology. 29(7-8), 569-583.

    Leek C, Patterson; C, Paul M, Rafal R, Cristino F. (2012) Eye movements during object recognition in visual agnosia. Neuropsychologia 50(9):2142-2153.

    van Koningsbruggen, MG, Peelen MD, Davies E, Rafal RD. (2012)  Neural control of eye closure: a case study and an fMRI investigation of blinking and winking. Behavioural Neurology, 25:103-109.

    van der Stigchel S, van Koningsbruggen, M, Nijboer TCJ, List A, Rafal RD. (2012) The role of the frontal eye fields in the oculomotor inhibition of reflexive saccades: evidence from lesion patients. Neuropsychologia 50:198-203.

    Salas C, Gross JJ, Rafal RD, Vinas-Guasch N, Turnbull OH (2013) Concrete behaviour and reappraisal deficits after a left frontal stroke: A case study. Neuropsychological Rehbilitation.  Pp. 1-34. doi:10.1080/09602011.2013.784709

    Vicario CM, Kritikos A, Avenanti A, Rafal R. (2013). Reward and punishment: investigating cortico-bulbar excitability to disclose the value of goods. Front Psychol. 4:39. doi: 0.3389/fpsyg.2013.00039. Epub 2013 Feb 5.

    Van der Stigchel S, NijboerTCJ, Bultitude JH,. Rafal RD (2013) Delayed oculomotor inhibition in patients with lesions to the human frontal oculomotor cortex; evidence from a study on saccade averaging. Brain and Cognition 82:192-200.

     Van der Stigchel S, Rafal RD, Bultitude JH. (2013). Temporal dynamics of error correction in a double step task in patients with a lesion to the lateral intra-parietal cortex. Neuropsychologia 51: 2988-2994.

    Vicario CM, Komeilipoor N, Cesari P, Kritikos A, Rafal R, Nitsche MA. (2014) Enhanced cortico-bulbar excitability in chronic smokers during visual exposure to cigarette smoking cues. Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience. 39(4): 232–238.

    Capizzi, M, Correa, A, Wojtowicz A, & Rafal, RD (2015). Foreperiod priming in temporal preparation: Testing current models of sequential effects. Cognition 134:39-49.

    Vicario CM, Rafal RD, Avenanti A. (2015) Counterfactual thinking affects the excitability of the motor cortex. Cortex 65:139-148

    Robert D Rafal, Kristin Koller Janet H Bultitude, Paul Mullins, Robert Ward, Anna S Mitchell, Andrew H Bell. ((2015) Connectivity between the superior colliculus and the amygdala in humans and macaque monkeys: Virtual dissection with probabilistic DTI tractography. Journal of Neurophysiology, 114(3): 1947-1962.

    Poliva O, Bestelmeyer PEG, Hall M, Bultitude JH, Koller K, Rafal RD (2015). Functional organization of the human auditory fields: activation of auditory cortex in a patient with auditory agnosia from trauma to the inferior colliculus. Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology 28(3):160-180.

    Representative Publications

    Rafal RD and Grimm RJ.  Progressive supranuclear palsy:  functional analysis of the response to methysergide and anti-parkinsonian agents.  Neurology, 31:1507-1518, 1981.

    Marin OSSM, Glenn CG and Rafal RD.  Visual problem solving in the absence of lexical semantics:  Evidence from dementia.  Brain and Cognition, 2:285-311, 1983.

    Posner MI, Walker JA, Friedrich FJ and Rafal RD.  Effects of parietal injury on covert orienting of visual attention.  Journal of Neuroscience, 4:1863-1874, 1984.

    Rafal RD, Posner MI, Walker JA and Friedrich FJ.  Cognition and the basal ganglia:  Separating mental and motor components of performance in Parkinson's disease.  Brain, 107:1083-1094, 1984.

    Rafal RD and Posner MI.  Deficits in human visual spatial attention following thalamic lesions.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, U.S.A, 84:7349-7353, 1987.

    Rafal RD, Posner MI, Friedman JH, Inhoff AW and Bernstein E.  Orienting of visual attention in progressive supranuclear palsy.  Brain, 111:267-280, 1988.

    Inhoff, AW, Diener, HC, Rafal, RD and Ivry, R.  The role of cerebellar structures in the programming and execution of movement sequences.  Brain, 112:565-581, 1989.

    Rafal R, Smith J, Krantz J, Cohen A and Brennan C.  Extrageniculate vision in hemianopic humans:  saccade inhibition by signals in the blind field.  Science, 250:118-121, 1990.

    Driver J, Baylis G, Rafal, R.  Preserved figure-ground segmentation and symmetry perception in a patient with neglect.  Nature, 360:73-75, 1992.

    Baylis G, Driver J, Rafal R.  Extinction and stimulus repetition.  Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 5:453-466, 1993.

    Egly R, Driver J, Rafal R.  Attention to objects and locations:  evidence from normal subjects and parietal lesion patients.  Journal of Experimental Psychology:  General, 123, 161-127, 1994.

    Henik A, Rafal R, Rhodes D.  Voluntary and reflexive saccades after lesions of the human frontal eye fields.  Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 6:400-411, 1994.

    Seyal M, Ro T, Rafal R.  Perception of subthreshold cutaneous stimuli following transcranial magnetic stimulation of ipsilateral parietal cortex.  Annals of Neurology, 38:264-267, 1995.

    Ro T, Henik A, Rafal RD, Machado, L. Effects of transcranial magnetic stimulation of the frontal eye fields on voluntary and reflexive saccades. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 9:433-440, 1997.

    Tipper S, Rafal R,  Reuter-Lorenz PA, Starreveld Y, Ro T, Egly R Weaver B, Danziger S. Object based facilitation and inhibition from visual orienting in the human split brain.  Journal of Experimental Psychology:  Human Perception and Performance  23:1522-1532, 1997.

    Hayes, AE, Davidson MC, Keele SW, Rafal RD.  Toward a functional analysis of the basal ganglia. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 10:178-198, 1998.

    Danziger S, Kingstone A, Rafal R. Orienting to extinguished signals in hemispatial neglect.  Psychological Science, 9:119-123, 1998.

    Vuilleumier P, Rafal R. "Both" means more than "two": localizing and counting in patients with visuospatial neglect. Nature Neuroscience, 2:783-784, 1999.

    Vuilleumier P, Rafal R. A systematic study of extinction: between and within field deficits of attention in hemispatial neglect. Brain  123:1263-1279, 2000.

    Ward R, Danziger  S, Owen V, Rafal R. Deficits in spatial coding and feature binding following damage to the human pulvinar. Nature Neuroscience 5:99-100, 2002.

    Rafal  R, Danziger S, Grossi G, Machado L, Ward R .Visual detection is gated by attending for action: evidence from hemispatial neglect. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 99:16371-16375, 2002.

    Berger A, Henik A, Rafal R. Competition between endogenous and exogenous orienting of visual attention. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 134: 207–221, 2005.

    di Pellegrino G, Rafal R Tipper SP. Implicitly evoked actions modulate visual selection: Evidence from parietal extinction. Current Biology 15:1469–1472, 2005.

    Snow J, Allen H, Rafal R, Humphreys G. (2009) Impaired attentional selection following lesions to human pulvinar: evidence for homology between human and monkey. PNAS 106:4054-4059.

    Danziger, S., & Rafal, R. (2009). The effect of visual signals on spatial decision making. Cognition, 110:182-197.

    Bultitude J, Rafal R, List A.(2009)  Prism adaptation reverses the local processing bias in patients with right temporo-parietal junction lesions. Brain 132: 1669-1677.





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