Daniel Salzman, MD, PhD

Daniel Salzman, MD, PhD

Research Interest

We study the neural mechanisms that give particular sensory stimuli emotional value, leading to emotional behavior. Using the primate visual system as an experimental platform, our basic approach is to conduct neurophysiological experiments in rhesus monkeys performing a variety of tasks involving emotional learning. We generally use conditioning techniques to give otherwise neutral stimuli emotional significance.

We are investigating the physiological responses of amygdala neurons during emotional learning. The amygdala is a limbic brain structure likely to be critical to the process of associating sensory stimuli with emotional values. Simultaneously, we employ quantitative measurements of emotional learning and behavior in the monkey. We are testing the hypothesis that modulations in amygdala neural activity are correlated with the monkeys' emotional learning, behavior, and decision making.

Future studies are planned in three general directions. First, we plan to study how orbitofrontal cortex contributes to emotional learning and behavior on the tasks we employ. Parts of orbitofrontal cortex are intimately connected to the amygdala, and our goal is to understand the distinct processing in these brain areas. Second, we plan to investigate how stimuli in other sensory modalities become associated with emotional value in the amygdala. The amygdala receives input from multiple sensory modalities, and therefore representations of emotional value in the amygdala may exist across sensory modalities, perhaps even in the same cells. Finally, we plan to use pharmacological manipulations to try to understand the critical synaptic mechanisms underlying emotional learning. These experiments may deepen our understanding of psychopharmacology by linking synaptic mechanisms to both neurophysiology and to emotional behavior.

Member, The Kavli Institute for Brain Science

Publications - (* = senior author; ** = co-senior author)

  • Paton, J.J., Belova, M.A., Morrison, S.E. and *Salzman, C.D.  The primate amygdala represents the positive and negative value of visual stimuli during learning.  Nature 2006, 439: 865-870.
  • Belova, M.A., Paton, J.J., Morrison, S.E. and *Salzman, C.D.  Expectation modulates neural responses to pleasant and aversive stimuli in primate amygdala. Neuron 2007, 55: 970-984.
  • Belova, M.A., Paton, J.J. and *Salzman, C.D.  Moment to moment tracking of state value in the amygdala.  Journal of Neuroscience 2008, 28(40): 10023-10030.
  • Morrison, S.E., *Salzman, C.D. The convergence of information about rewarding and aversive stimuli in single neurons. Journal of Neuroscience 2009, 29(37):  11471-11483.
  • Morrison, S.E., Saez, A., Lau, B. and *Salzman C.D. Different time courses for learning-related changes in amygdala and orbitofrontal cortex. Neuron 2011 Sep 22, 71(6): 1127-40.
  • Peck, C.J., Lau, B. and *Salzman, C.D. The primate amygdala combines information about space and value. Nature Neuroscience 2013 Mar, 16(3): 340-8.
  • Peck C.J. and *Salzman C.D. Amygdala neural activity reflects spatial attention towards stimuli promising reward or threatening punishment. eLife 2014 Oct 30; 3. 10.7554/eLife.04478.
  • Gore F, Schwartz E.C., Brangers B.C., Aladi S, Stujenske J.M., Likhtik E, Russo M.J., Gordon J.A., **Salzman C.D., Axel R. Neural Representations of Unconditioned Stimuli in Basolateral Amygdala Mediate Innate and Learned Responses. Cell 2015 Jul 2; 162(1): 134-45.
  • Saez A, Rigotti M, Ostojic S, Fusi S, *Salzman C.D. Abstract Context Representations in Primate Amygdala and Prefrontal Cortex. Neuron 2015 Aug 19; 87(4): 869-81.
  • Baruni, J., Lau, B. and *Salzman, C.D. Reward expectation differentially modulates attentional behavior and activity in visual area V4. Nature Neuroscience 2015 Nov, 18(11): 1656-1663.
  • Saez R.A., Saez A, Paton J.J., Lau B, *Salzman, C.D. Distinct Roles for the Amygdala and Orbitofrontal Cortex in Representing the Relative Amount of Expected Reward. Emotion, Cognition and Mental State Representation in Amygdala and Prefrontal Cortex. Neuron 2017 Jul 5;95(1): 70-77.
  • Bernardi S, Salzman CD. The contribution on nonhuman primate research to the understanding of emotion and cognition and its clinical relevance. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2019 Dec 23;116(52):26305-12.
  • Cueva CJ, Saez A, Marcos E, Genovesio A, Jazayeri M, Romo R, Salzman CD, Shadlen MN, Fusi S. Low-dimensional dynamics for working memory and time encoding. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2020 Sep 15;117(37):23021-23032.
  • Bernardi S, Benna MK, Rigotti M, Munuera J, Fusi S, Salzman CD. The Geometry of Abstraction in the Hippocampus and Prefrontal Cortex. Cell. 2020 Nov 12; 183(4):954-967.

Complete List of Published Work in MyBibliography

B.A.;    University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Ph.D.; Stanford University, School of Medicine, CA

M.D.;   Stanford University, School of Medicine, CA

                       Licensure: New York

Residency, Psychiatry;

            Stanford University Hospital, Stanford, CA

Postdoc, Neuroscience;

            Stanford University, Stanford, CA

CIMER Research Mentor Training, as a mentor for MOSAIC K99/R00 scholars