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Farran Briggs, Ph.D.

(Pronouns: she/her/hers)

Contact Information

Phone Numbers

Office: (585) 276-3736

Research Labs

Faculty Appointments

  • Associate Professor - Department of Neuroscience (SMD)
  • Associate Professor - Department of Brain/Cognitive Sciences RC (RC) - Joint
  • Associate Professor - Center for Visual Science A&S (RC) - Joint


Professional Background

After graduating from Dartmouth College in 1997 with a B.A. in Biology, Dr. Briggs attended graduate school at the University of California, San Diego where she studied local cortical circuitry with Dr. Ed Callaway at the Salk Institute. She received her Ph.D. in Biology from UCSD in 2003. Dr. Briggs conducted her post-doctoral research at the University of California, Davis where she studied visual systems neurophysiology with Drs. Marty Usrey, Barbara Chapman, and Ron Mangun. From 2011 to 2017, Dr. Briggs was an Assistant Professor in the Physiology & Neurobiology department at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. In 2017, Dr. Briggs moved her lab to the University of Rochester, joining the Neuroscience and Brain and Cognitive Sciences departments. Dr. Briggs’ research is aimed at understanding how neuronal circuits in the early visual system encode and process visual information in healthy and in disease states, and how spatial attention modulates these activities.


Critical to our comprehension of the brain is an understanding of how neuronal circuits, or the connections between neurons in the brain, underlie perception and behavior. The goals of the laboratory are to understand how neuronal circuits in the early visual system encode and process visual information and how spatial attention modulates these activities. There are four main projects that are currently underway in the laboratory. The first aims at understanding the mechanism by which visual attention modulates the activity of neurons and circuits in the early visual pathways. We have demonstrated that attentional modulation of neurons in the primary visual cortex depends critically on the match between the feature selectivity of individual neurons and the features required for successful task completion. We continue to explore the mechanisms of attention at the granular and circuit level in order to develop a more comprehensive understanding of visual attention. The second project in the lab is designed to elucidate the functional role of the corticogeniculate feedback circuit in visual perception. We have shown that corticogeniculate neurons connecting the visual cortex with the visual thalamus in the feedback direction are morphologically and physiologically diverse. We have utilized an innovative combination of virus-mediated gene delivery and optogenetic techniques to show that corticogeniculate feedback controls the timing, precision, and variability of thalamic responses to incoming visual information. Ongoing experiments will further define how corticogeniculate feedback regulates the flow of information about distinct visual features in the environment. The third project explores physiological changes that occur in the visual thalamus following removal of retinal input, as can occur in many diseases of the eye. Related work will also explore the role of the visual thalamus and extrastriate visual cortex in visual perception following damage to primary visual cortex that occurs during stroke. Finally, a fourth project in the lab aims to decode visual responses under more natural conditions in freely moving subjects. Together, these projects utilize combinations of innovative methods to better understand the neuronal basis for visual perception in both health and disease.



BA | Dartmouth College

PhD | University of California, San Diego

Post-doctoral Training & Residency

2003 - 2010
Postdoctoral Fellow with Dr. W. Martin Usrey (co-mentored by Drs. B. Chapman, G.R. Mangun), UC Davis


Sponsor: University of Pennsylvania
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Neuroscience Graduate Program Annual Retreat Faculty Speaker
Sponsor: URMC Neuroscience Graduate Program

Mentoring Award
Sponsor: Dartmouth Graduate Program

2009 - 2014
Pathway to Independence Award
Sponsor: NIH

2007 - 2009
Society for Neuroscience Chapters Postdoctoral Trainee Travel Award
Sponsor: Society for Neuroscience
Location: UC Davis

Optical Society of America Young Investigator Award
Sponsor: Optical Society of America

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Journal Articles

Yang J, Saionz EL, Cavanaugh MR, Fahrenthold BK, Melnick MD, Tadin D, Briggs F, Carrasco M, Huxlin KR. "Contrast sensitivity: a fundamental limit to vision restoration after V1 damage." medRxiv : the preprint server for health sciences.. 2023 Sep 2; Epub 2023 Sep 02.

Yang J, Huxlin K, Briggs F. "Poster Session: The impact of retinal excitotoxic lesions on parallel visual streams in the ferret dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus." Journal of vision.. 2023 Sep 1; 23(11):79.

Hu W, Zhu S, Briggs F, Doyley MM. "Functional ultrasound imaging reveals 3D structure of orientation domains in ferret primary visual cortex." NeuroImage.. 2023 Jan 18; :119889. Epub 2023 Jan 18.

Books & Chapters

Chapter Title: Mammalian visual system organization
Book Title: The Oxford Encyclopedia of Neuroscience
Author List: Farran Briggs
Edited By: W.M. Usrey and S.M. Sherman
Published By: Oxford University Press 2017 in Oxford

Chapter Title: Functional properties of cortical feedback to the primate lateral geniculate nucleus
Book Title: The New Visual Neurosciences
Author List: Farran Briggs and W. Martin Usrey
Published By: MIT Press 2014 in Cambridge

Chapter Title: Visual processing: primary visual cortex
Book Title: Encyclopedia of Perception
Author List: Farran Briggs and W. Martin Usrey
Edited By: B. Goldstein
Published By: Sage Press 2008