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Dr. Matthew NelsonAssistant Professor

Areas of Interest
neurophysiology, language, cognitive and systems neuroscience, neurolinguistics

Dr. Matthew J. Nelson is an assistant professor in the UAB Department of Neurosurgery. His research uses opportunities to perform intracranial recordings and causal experiments in human patient volunteers to study how the brain gives rise to the uniquely human faculty of language. Within that, his focus is sentence processing, including syntax, semantics and their interactions. Before focusing on human intracranial work and language, his background was in cognitive and systems neuroscience using single unit and local field potential recordings in awake behaving macaques. He has also made contributions to the technique and theory of extracellular neurophysiological recordings and their interpretation.


Postgraduate Training

Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois
Postdoctoral Research Fellow

INSERM, Saclay, France
Postdoctoral Researcher

Doctoral Degree

California Institute of Technology, Pasadena California
Ph.D., Computation and Neural Systems

Bachelor's Degrees

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
BSE, Chemical Engineering
B.S., Biopsychology


Campus Address
JT 728



  • Select Publications
    • Nelson, M.J., El Karoui, I., Giber, K., Yang, X., Cohen, L., Koopman, H., Cash, S., Naccache, L., Hale, J.T., Pallier, C. & Dehaene, S. (2017). Neurophysiological dynamics of phrase-structure building during sentence processing. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A., 114(18), E3669-E3678. PMCID: PMC5422821

    • Pesaran, B., Nelson, M.J. & Andersen, R.A. (2008). Free choice activates a decision circuit between frontal and parietal cortex. Nature, 453(7193), 406-409. PMCID: PMC2728060

    • Nelson, M.J., Pouget, P., Nilsen, E.A., Patten, C.D. & Schall, J.D. (2008). Review of signal distortion through metal microelectrode recording circuits and filters. J Neurosci Methods., 169(1), 141-157. PMCID: PMC2292115

    • Pesaran, B., Nelson, M.J. & Andersen, R.A. (2006). Dorsal premotor neurons encode the relative position of the hand, eye, and goal during reach planning. Neuron, 51(1), 125-134. PMCID: PMC3066049

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