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Timothy Gawne headshot.


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HPB 528

(205) 934-5495

Teaching/research interests: Information processing in the nervous system; retinal signal processing and the development of myopia ("emmetropization"), cerebral cortical dynamics and schizophrenia; science fiction and AI.

Office hours: By appointment


  • BS, MIT, Electrical Engineering
  • PhD, USUHS, Physiology

I was originally trained as an electrical engineer, and worked in industry for a time, but then moved on to physiology. I am first and foremost a systems neuroscientist: I am interested in how information is processed and transmitted in the nervous system, not so much the details of specific genes and ion channels etc. I worked at the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) before moving to the UAB School of Optometry in 1996, where I remain to this day. I have applied this interest to the visual system, exploring visual cortical neuronal dynamics and, more recently, dynamics in the retina. Finally, I have a long-standing interest in science fiction, having authored the popular "Old Guy" series of cybertank novels.

Research Interests: My current primary interest is in the neural circuitry that actively controls eye growth during infancy and childhood. We know that the retina uses visual cues to control eye growth, but we still don't know what these cues are, or how they are integrated, or what neural circuits are involved. This is of interest both scientifically and clinically, because it is the failure of this system in modern civilization that is leading to our current epidemic of myopia. I am also involved in collaborative efforts looking at cortical brain dynamics and schizophrenia.

Recent courses taught:

VIS 455/755 Electronics for Biologists: A wide-ranging introduction to the basic principles of electronics aimed at biology majors, covering both instrumentation and bioelectric phenomena at scale from ion channels to entire brains.

VS131 Neurobiology of the visual system: A course for the optometry curriculum, aimed at giving future optometrists a solid foundation in the neuroscience of the visual system, including 'higher order' cortical visual processing.

Select publications:

  • Bowman, A., Griffis, J, Visscher, K., Dobbins A., Gawne, T., DiFranceso, M., and Szaflasrki, J. Relationship between alpha rhythm and the default mode network: An EEG-fMRI study", J. Clin. Neurophysiology, in press.
  • Gawne, T.J., Ward, A.H., Norton, T.T. Long-wavelength (red) light produces hyperopia in juvenile and adolescent tree shrews. Vision Res. 2017 Aug 8. pii: S0042-6989(17)30149-9. doi: 10.1016/j.visres.2017.07.011. [Epub ahead of print]
  • PMID: 28801261
  • Gawne, T.J., Siegwart, J.T. Jr., Ward, A.H., and Norton, T.N. The Wavelength Composition and Temporal Modulation of Ambient Lighting Strongly Affect Refractive Development in Young Tree Shrews. Exp. Eye Res. 155: 75-84, 2017. doi: 10.1016/j.exer.2016.12.004. PMID: 27979713
  • Gawne, T.J., Killen, J.F., Tracy, J.M., and Lahti, A.C. The Effect of Saccadic Eye Movements on the Sensor-Level Magnetoencephalogram. Clinical Neurophysiology, 128: 397-407, 2017.
  • Gawne, T.J. The Responses of V1 Cortical Neurons to Flashed Presentations of Single Lines and Edges. Journal of Neurophysiology, 113:2676-81. Doi: 10.1152/jn.00940.2014, 2015.
  • Bolding, M.S., Moore, C., Gurler, D., Lahti, A.C., Gawne, T.J., White, D., and Gamlin, P.D. Vergence eye movements in patients with schizophrenia. Vision Research, 102: 64-70, 2014. doi: 10.1016/j.visres.2014.07.008.
  • Dickerhoff, T.D., Yildirim, A., and Gawne, T.J. Roboneuron: A simple and robust real-time analog spike simulator and calibrator. J. Neuroscience Methods, 218: 161-163, 2013. doi: 10.1016/j.jneumeth.2013.05.010
  • Bolding, M.S., Lahti, A.C., Gawne, T.J., Hopkins, K.B., Gurler, D., Gamlin, P.D. Ocular convergence deficits in schizophrenia. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 3,86, 2012.
  • Sundberg, K., Mitchell, J., Gawne, T., and Reynolds, J. Attention Influences Single Unit and Local Field Potential Response Latencies in Visual Cortical Area V4. Journal of Neuroscience, 32: 16040-16050, 2012. doi: 10.1523/ JNEUROSCI.0489-12.2012