Dr. Jun Maruta


Brain Trauma Foundation


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Area of Expertise: eye movement, ocular pursuit, attention, vestibulo-ocular reflex, visual tracking, concussion
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Summary
I currently hold the position of Scientist at Brain Trauma Foundation (BTF), a not-for-profit organization in New York City dedicated to improving the outcome of patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI). Previously, I was at New York University School of Medicine and Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Broadly speaking, my work involves using eye movement as a probe of brain functioning.

My Ph.D. was on the vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) of the rabbit. I demonstrated that the (VOR) does not just compensate for the head movement, but prepares the animal to orient the eyes so as to optimize the acquisition of the visual information appropriate for the anticipated movement. That is, even at the reflex level, anticipation or prediction is at work well before perception takes place.

After my Ph.D., I continued to work with the rabbit but with the cerebellar physiology. My contribution to the field during this time includes demonstrating that the climbing fiber input, a signal component that was previously considered to be all-or-none, carried additional information in the form of the number of intraburst spikes.

At BTF, my focus is in U.S. Department of Defense-funded contracts to derive an attention-based biomarker for screening patients with mild TBI (concussion). We have approached attention problems that can occur after a concussion as disrupted readiness for interacting with the environment due to temporal mismatch among sensory processing, motor planning, and execution. Within this framework, we have found that visual tracking of concussion patients is often disrupted by premature execution of motor plans. Attention is multi-faceted and can be disrupted by many causes; thus, in addressing these issues, we have studied visual tracking, neurocognitive, and neuroimaging profiles of patients with concussion and ADHD, normal civilian subjects, and normal soldiers before and during sleep deprivation.
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