Christopher Baker, Ph.D.

Senior Investigator

Section on Learning and Plasticity, Laboratory of Brain and Cognition (LBC)


Magnuson Clinical Center (Building 10), Room 4C216
10 Center Drive
Bethesda, MD 20814


Research Topics

The aim of the Unit on Learning and Plasticity is to better understand how the structure, function and selectivity of the cortex change with experience or impairment, even in adulthood. Toward this goal, there are three main avenues of research, principally using brain-imaging techniques. The first avenue concerns the nature of perceptual representations in the human brain, focusing on complex visual stimuli such as faces, bodies, scenes and words. The second avenue explores how experience and learning change the neural and cognitive representations of sensory input. For example, what are the neural changes underlying our enormous capacity to learn to recognize new objects and to make fine-grained discriminations among those objects? The third avenue concerns how the cortex adapts following damage to the nervous system (either peripheral or central). For example, what is the impact of macular degeneration (loss of foveal vision) or amputation on cortical function and how does that relate to conditions such as phantom limb pain (pain in the missing limb)? Elucidating the nature and extent of cortical plasticity is critical for understanding brain function throughout life.


Dr. Baker is Chief of the Unit on Learning and Plasticity in the Laboratory of Brain and Cognition. He received his B.A. in Neuroscience in 1995 from the University of Cambridge in England, and his Ph.D. in Psychology in 1999 from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, where he worked with Dr. David Perrett on neurophysiological studies of visual perception. During a postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition in Pittsburgh, he worked with both Carl Olson and Marlene Behrmann on combined monkey neurophysiological and human behavioral studies of visual object representation and learning. In 2003, he moved to MIT to work with Nancy Kanwisher, using functional brain imaging techniques to investigate learning, plasticity and high-level vision in human cortex. Dr. Baker arrived at the NIMH in the fall of 2006.

Selected Publications

  1. Kravitz DJ, Saleem KS, Baker CI, Mishkin M. A new neural framework for visuospatial processing. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2011;12(4):217-30.

  2. Lee SH, Kravitz DJ, Baker CI. Goal-dependent dissociation of visual and prefrontal cortices during working memory. Nat Neurosci. 2013;16(8):997-9.

  3. Harel A, Kravitz DJ, Baker CI. Task context impacts visual object processing differentially across the cortex. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014;111(10):E962-71.

  4. Kravitz DJ, Saleem KS, Baker CI, Ungerleider LG, Mishkin M. The ventral visual pathway: an expanded neural framework for the processing of object quality. Trends Cogn Sci. 2013;17(1):26-49.

This page was last updated on August 1st, 2017