Aron K. Barbey

Section 1

Program Area: Cognitive Neuroscience

Associate Professor of Psychology

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Aron K. Barbey is the Emanuel Donchin Professorial Scholar of Psychology and Associate Professor of Psychology, Neuroscience, and Bioengineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He directs the Center for Brain Plasticity, the Intelligence, Learning, and Plasticity Initiative, and the Decision Neuroscience Laboratory at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology. He received a Ph.D. in Psychology from Emory University in 2007 and completed a research fellowship in Cognitive Neuroscience at the National Institutes of Health in 2011. Professor Barbey’s research investigates the neural foundations of human intelligence and decision making, with particular emphasis on enhancing these functions through cognitive neuroscience, physical fitness, and nutritional intervention. He has won more than $16 million in private and federal research grants as PI since joining the University of Illinois in 2011, receiving support from the NIH BRAIN Initiative, the research division of the United States Director of National Intelligence (IARPA), the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and Abbott Nutrition. He has received multiple academic achievement awards and serves on the editorial board of IntelligenceThinking & Reasoning, and NeuroImage.

Research Description

Our research investigates the principles of brain organization that underlie executive control, reasoning and decision making. Through a combination of human behavioral, computational modeling, functional neuroimaging (fMRI) and neuropsychological patient data, we seek to uncover the mechanisms that shape higher cognitive processes and to develop predictive models of brain function that link neural systems to specific patterns of inference and behavior. An important motivation for our work is the development of a theoretically sound foundation for research on the relationship between disturbances of brain function and their manifestation as disorders of thought and behavior in psychiatric illness and neurological disease.


  • Ph.D. from Emory University


Journal Articles

  • Talukdar, T, M Zamroziewicz, C E. Zwilling, and A K. Barbey. "Nutrient biomarkers shape individual differences in functional brain connectivity: Evidence from omega-3 PUFAs." Human Brain Mapping (2018):
  • Zwilling, C E., T Talukdar, M Zamroziewicz, and A K. Barbey. "Nutrient biomarker patterns, cognitive function, and fMRI measures of network efficiency in the aging brain." NeuroImage (2018):
  • Hammer, R, E J. Paul, C H. Hillman, A F. Kramer, N J. Cohen, and A K. Barbey. "Individual differences in analogical reasoning revealed by multivariate task-based functional brain imaging." NeuroImage (2018):
  • Turner, B O., E J. Paul, M B. Miller, and A K. Barbey. "Small sample sizes reduce the replicability of task-based fMRI studies." Communications Biology (2018):
  • Sharp, P B., B P. Sutton, E J. Paul, C H. Hillman, N J. Cohen, A F. Kramer, W Heller, E H. Telzer, and A K. Barbey. "Mindfulness training induces structural connectome changes in mechanisms of interoception." Scientific Reports (2018):
  • Talukdar, M T., F Roman, J Operskalski, C E. Zwilling, and A K. Barbey. "Individual differences in decision making competence revealed by multivariate fMRI." Human Brain Mapping (2018):
  • Johnson, C L., H Schwarb, K M. Horecka, D J. McGarry, C H. Hillman, A F. Kramer, N J. Cohen, and A K. Barbey. "Double dissociation of structure-function relationships in memory and fluid intelligence observed with magnetic resonance elastography." NeuroImage (2018):
  • Barbey, A K. "Network Neuroscience Theory of Human Intelligence." Trends in Cognitive Sciences (2017):
  • Daugherty, A, C Zwilling, E Paul, N Sherepa, C Allen, A Kramer, C Hillman, N Cohen, and A K. Barbey. "Multi-Modal Fitness and Cognitive Training to Enhance Fluid Intelligence." Intelligence (2017):
  • Talukdar, M T., A Nikolaidis, C E. Zwilling, E J. Paul, C H. Hillman, N J. Cohen, A F. Kramer, and A K. Barbey. "Aerobic Fitness Explains Individual Differences in the Functional Brain Connectome of Healthy Young Adults." Cerebral Cortex (2017):
  • Zamroziewicz, M K., M T. Talukdar, C E. Zwilling, and A K. Barbey. "Nutritional Status, Brain Network Organization, and General Intelligence." NeuroImage (2017):
  • Schwarb, H, C Johnson, A Daugherty, C Hillman, A Kramer, N J. Cohen, and A K. Barbey. "Aerobic fitness, hippocampal viscoelasticity, and relational memory performance." NeuroImage (2017): 179-188.
  • Ward, N, E J. Paul, P Watson, G E. Cooke, C H. Hillman, N J. Cohen, A F. Kramer, and A K. Barbey. "Enhanced learning through multimodal training: Evidence from a comprehensive cognitive, physical fitness, and neuroscience intervention." Scientific Reports (2017):
  • Paul, E J., R J. Larsen, A Nikolaidis, N Ward, C H. Hillman, N J. Cohen, A F. Kramer, and A K. Barbey. "Dissociable brain biomarkers of fluid intelligence." NeuroImage 137 (2016): 201-211.
  • Watson, P D., E J. Paul, G E. Cooke, N Ward, J M. Monti, K M. Horecka, C M. Allen, C H. Hillman, N J. Cohen, A F. Kramer, and A K. Barbey. "Underlying sources of cognitive-anatomical variation in multi-modal neuroimaging and cognitive testing." NeuroImage 129 (2016): 439-449.
  • Operskalski, J T., and A K. Barbey. "Risk literacy in medical decision making." Science 352.6284 (2016): 413-414.
  • Zamroziewicz, M K., and A K. Barbey. "Nutritional cognitive neuroscience: Innovations for healthy brain aging." Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience (Tier 2) 10 (2016): 1-10.
  • Barbey, A K., A Belli, A Logan, R Rubin, M K. Zamroziewicz, and J T. Operskalski. "Network topology and dynamics in traumatic brain injury." Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences 4 (2015): 92-102.
  • Wolff, P, and A K. Barbey. "Causal reasoning with forces." Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 9 (2015): 1-21.
  • Barbey, A K., R Colom, and J Grafman. "Distributed neural system for emotional intelligence revealed by lesion mapping." Social, Cognitive, and Affective Neuroscience 9 (2014): 265-272.
  • Barbey, A K., R Colom, E J. Paul, and J Grafman. "Lesion mapping of social problem solving." Brain (2014): 1-11.
  • Barbey, A K., R Colom, E J. Paul, and J Grafman. "Architecture of fluid intelligence and working memory revealed by lesion mapping." Brain Structure and Function 219.2 (2014): 485-494.
  • Barbey, A K., R Colom, E J. Paul, C Forbes, F Krueger, D Goldman, and J Grafman. "Preservation of general intelligence following traumatic brain injury: Contributions of the Met66 brain-derived neurotrophic factor." PLOS One 9.2 (2014): e88733.
  • Khemlani, S, A K. Barbey, and P N. Johnson-Laird. "Causal reasoning with mental models." Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 8 (2014): 1-15.
  • Barbey, A K., R Colom, and J Grafman. "Neural mechanisms of discourse comprehension: A human lesion study." Brain (2013): 1-11.
  • Barbey, A K., R Colom, and J Grafman. "Architecture of cognitive flexibility revealed by lesion mapping." NeuroImage 82 (2013): 547-554.
  • Barbey, A K., M Koenigs, and J Grafman. "Dorsolateral prefrontal contributions to human working memory." Cortex 49.5 (2013): 1195-1205.
  • Barbey, Aron K., Roberto Colom, Jeff Solomon, Frank Krueger, Chad Forbes, and Jordan Grafman. "An integrative architecture for general intelligence and executive function revealed by lesion mapping." Brain (2012): 1-11.
  • Barbey, Aron K., Michael Koenigs, and Jordan Grafman. "Orbitofrontal contributions to human working memory." Cerebral Cortex 21.4 (2011): 789-795.
  • Wolff, Phillip, Aron K. Barbey, and Matthew Hausknecht. "For want of a nail: How absences cause events." Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 139.2 (2010): 191-221.
  • Barbey, Aron K., Frank Krueger, and Jordan Grafman. "An evolutionarily adaptive neural architecture for social reasoning." Trends in Neurosciences 32.12 (2009): 603-610.
  • Koenigs, Michael, Aron K. Barbey, Bradley Postle, and Jordan Grafman. "Superior parietal cortex is critical for the manipulation of information in working memory." Journal of Neuroscience 29.47 (2009): 14980-14986.
  • Krueger, Frank, Aron K. Barbey, Kevin McCabe, Strenzoik M, Giovanna Zamboni, Jeff Solomon, Vanessa Raymont, and Jordan Grafman. "The neural bases of key competencies of emotional intelligence." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 106.52 (2009): 22486-22491.
  • Dimitrios, Kapogiannis, Aron K. Barbey, Michael Su, Giovanna Zamboni, Frank Krueger, and Jordan Grafman. "Cognitive and neural foundations of religious belief." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 106.12 (2009): 4876-4881.
  • Sloman, Steven, Aron K. Barbey, and Jared Hotaling. "A causal model theory of the meaning of "cause", "enable", and "prevent"." Cognitive Science 33.1 (2009): 21-50.
  • Barbey, Aron K., and Steven Sloman. "Base rate respect: From ecological rationality to dual processes." Behavioral and Brain Sciences 30.3 (2007): 241-254.
Section 2


Facilities Information

Building Remodeling Projects

Click on the title to check out these pictures from the classroom remodeling project in the basement. A second project to replace the elevators will begin in September. Beginning with the freight elevator, each elevator will be out of service for three months. To get quickly from one floor to another, and improve your fitness, we will encourage the use of the stairs. The repainting of the northeast stairwell has been completed, and the painter is starting on the southwest stairwell.