Alyssa A. Brewer

picture of Alyssa A. Brewer

Associate Professor, Cognitive Sciences
School of Social Sciences
Associate Professor, Linguistics
School of Social Sciences

Ph.D., Stanford University, 2005, Neurosciences
M.D., Stanford University, 2007, Medicine
B.S., Stanford University, 1996, Biological Sciences with Honors
A.B., Stanford University, 1996, Comparative Literature with Interdepartmental Honors in the Humanities

Phone: (949) 824-1501

University of California, Irvine
2304 Social & Behavioral Sciences Gateway (SBSG)
Mail Code: 5100
Irvine, CA 92697
Research Interests
Visual neuroscience, auditory neuroscience, somatosensation and pain, human cortical organization and function, cortical plasticity, stroke, Alzheimer's disease & dementia, rehabilitation, computational neuroimaging, psychophysics, behavioral genetics
Academic Distinctions
2015 2014 – 2015 The Dean's Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching, School of Social Sciences, University of California, Irvine
2014 2013 – 2014 Social Sciences Assistant Professor Research Award, University of California, Irvine
2012 – 2013 National Institutes of Health Loan Repayment Program Scholar
2012 2011 – 2012 Social Sciences Assistant Professor Research Award, University of California, Irvine
2010 – 2012 National Institutes of Health Loan Repayment Program Scholar
2010 2009 – 2010 Social Sciences Assistant Professor Research Award, University of California, Irvine
2008 – 2010 National Institutes of Health Loan Repayment Program Scholar
2006 American Medical Association (AMA) Seed Grant Fellow
2002 – 2006 National Institutes of Health M.D./Ph.D. Pre-doctoral NRSA Fellow
2002 First Place Poster: Stanford Medical Student Research Symposium, Stanford University
1998 Biological Sciences Excellence in Teaching Award, Stanford University
1998 Gerbode Scholar, Stanford University School of Medicine
1996 Departmental Honors in the Biological Sciences, Stanford University
1996 Interdisciplinary Honors in the Humanities, Department of Comparative Literature, Stanford University
1996 Biological Sciences Laura Weinstein Teaching Award and Grant, Stanford University
1995 Biological Sciences Excellence in Teaching Award, Stanford University
1995 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Summer Fellow, Stanford University
1991 National Merit Scholar Finalist
1991 National AP Scholar
2005 – 2007 Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Psychology, Stanford University
Research Abstract
I have had a lifelong interest in disease and the brain. To foster a career spanning both these interests, I completed a dual degree M.D./Ph.D. program at Stanford University to become a physician-scientist. During my graduate training in Neurosciences at the top program in the country, I discovered and characterized three new visual areas in the human brain (e.g., Brewer et al., Nature Neuroscience 2005), made the first visual field map measurements with fMRI in macaque cortex (Brewer et al., Journal of Neuroscience 2002), and developed the proposal of visual field map clusters as a fundamental, organizing principle of human visual cortex (e.g., Brewer et al., Nature Neuroscience 2005; Wandell, Brewer, Dougherty, Phil Trans Roy Soc 2005; Wandell, Dumoulin, Brewer, Neuron 2007). I was also an instrumental member on several collaborative projects that characterized the variability of visual field maps in human posterior occipital cortex (Dougherty, Koch, Brewer,et al., Journal of Vision 2003) and investigated developmental plasticity in human rod monochromats (Baseler, Brewer et al., Nature Neuroscience 2002), cortical plasticity induced by retinal lesions in adult macaque (Smirnakis, Brewer et al., Nature 2005), and sight-recovery in adult human (Fine, Wade, Brewer, et al., Nature Neuroscience 2003). During my postdoctoral work at Stanford, I received training in diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) through a project investigating white matter changes in temporal lobe epilepsy and collaborated on a project using DTI to measure the inter-hemispheric connectivity of human primary visual cortex (Dougherty, Ben-Shachar, Bammer, Brewer, Wandell, PNAS 2005). To complement my neuroscience graduate and postdoctoral training, I simultaneously completed medical school with a concentration of clinical experiences in neurology and neurosurgery.

In my current position as an Associate Professor at the University of California, Irvine, I am pursuing several lines of research arising from this training. My lab currently focuses on visual, auditory, and multi-sensory neuroscience, using behavioral, genetic, and high resolution neuroimaging techniques to investigate questions ranging from the fundamental organization of human visual, auditory, and somatosensory cortex; to plasticity in visual, auditory, and sensorimotor regions and pain pathways; to genetic and neuromodulatory effects on behavior.
A.A. Brewer, B. Barton. (2018). Cloverleaf clusters: A common macrostructural organization across human visual and auditory cortex. In Sensory Nervous System, Ed. Thomas Heinbockel. ISBN: 978-953-51-5595-9. (London, U.K.: InTech).
B. Barton, A.A. Brewer. (2017) Visual field map clusters in high-order visual processing: Organization of V3A/V3B and a new cloverleaf cluster in the posterior superior temporal sulcus. Research Topic: Representations of visual space in primates at Frontiers in Neuroscience, Integrative Neuroscience. 11:14. doi: 10.3389/fnint.2017.00004.
A.A. Brewer, B. Barton. (2016) Maps of the Auditory Cortex. Annual Review of Neuroscience. 39(1): 385-407. doi: 10.1146/annurev-neuro-070815-014045.
A.A. Brewer, B. Barton. (2016). Changes in visual cortex in healthy aging and dementia. In Update on Dementia, Ed. Davide Moretti. Print ISBN: 978-953-51-2654-6. (Rijeka, Croatia: InTech). doi: 10.5772/64562.
B. Barton, A.A. Brewer. (2015) FMRI of the Rod Scotoma: Cortical rod pathways and implications for lesion measurements. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) USA. 112(16), 5201-5206. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1423673112.
‘Messing with Reality?' - Episode 1 of The Brain with David Eagleman - Exploration Into the Inner Cosmos. (Aired 10/15/2015). Publisher: Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), produced by Blink Films. Featured scientists in Part 1: Alyssa A. Brewer, M.D., Ph.D., Brian Barton, Ph.D., and David Eagleman, Ph.D.
Episode clip available from:
Full PBS series available from:
D. Ta, B. Barton, A.A. Brewer, Z.L. Lu, Y Wang. (2015) Characterizing Human Retinotopic Mapping Using Conformal Geometry: Conformal Distortion Analysis. International Conference on Medical Imaging Computing and Computer Assisted Interventions (HPC – MICCAI). Munich, Germany.
E. Huber*, J. Webster*, A.A. Brewer, D. MacLeod, B. Wandell, A. Wade, I. Fine. [*joint first authors] (2015) A lack of experience-dependent plasticity after 12 years of recovered sight. Psychological Science. 26(4), 393-401. doi: 10.1177/0956797614563957.
B. Barton, A.A. Brewer. (2015) Human Auditory Cortex. In Neurobiology of Language, Eds. G. Hickok, S. L. Small. ISBN 978-0-12-407794-2. (Cambridge: Academic Press, Elsevier) Ch. 5, pp. 49-58. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-407794-2.00005-5.
D. Ta, J. Shi, B. Barton, A.A. Brewer, Z.L. Lu, Y. Wang. (2014) Characterizing Human Retinotopic Mapping with Conformal Geometry: A Preliminary Study. Proc. SPIE. 9034, Medical Imaging: Image Processing, 90342A. San Diego, CA. doi: 10.1117/12.2043570.
A.A. Brewer, B. Barton. (2014) Developmental Plasticity: FMRI Investigations into Human Visual Cortex. In Advanced Brain Neuroimaging Topics in Health and Disease - Methods and Applications, Eds. T. Dorina Papageorgiou, George Christopoulos, Stelios Smirnakis. ISBN: 978-953-51-1203-7. (Rijeka, Croatia: InTech) Ch. 12, pp. 305-334. doi:10.5772/58277.
B. Barton, A. Treister, M. Humphrey, G. Abedi, S.C. Cramer, A.A. Brewer. (2014) Paradoxical Visuomotor Adaptation to Reversed Visual Input Predicted by BDNF Val66Met Polymorphism. Journal of Vision. 14(19):4. doi: 10.1167/14.9.4.
A.A. Brewer, B. Barton. (2014) Visual cortex in aging and Alzheimer’s disease: Changes in visual field maps and population receptive fields. Research Topic: Visual perception and visual cognition in healthy and pathological ageing. Frontiers in Psychology, Perception Science. 5(74). doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00074.
'Topographic Visual Maps with Dr. Alyssa Brewer.' (2013) Brain Matters Podcast, Episode 4; The University of Texas at Austin:; Freely available on iTunes:
D.E. Asher, A.B. Craig, A. Zaldivar, A.A. Brewer, J.L. Krichmar. (2013) A Dynamic, Embodied Paradigm to Investigate the Role of Serotonin in Decision Making. Research Topic: Neurobiological circuit function and computation of the serotonergic and related systems at Frontiers in Neuroscience, Integrative Neuroscience. 7(78).
doi: 10.3389/fnint.2013.00078.
B. Barton & A.A. Brewer. (2013) Visual working memory in human cortex. Psychology. Special Issue on Advances in Cognitive Psychology. 4(8), 655-662. doi:10.4236/psych.2013.48093.
A.B. Craig, D.E. Asher, N. Oros, A.A. Brewer, J.L. Krichmar. (2013) Social contracts and human-computer interaction with simulated adapting agents. Adaptive Behavior. 21(5), 371-387. doi:10.1177/1059712313491612.
B. Barton, J.H. Venezia, K. Saberi, G. Hickok, A.A. Brewer. (2012) Orthogonal Acoustic Dimensions Define Auditory Field Maps in Human Cortex. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) USA. 109(50), 20738-43. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1213381109.
A.A. Brewer, B. Barton. (2012) Effects of healthy aging on human primary visual cortex. Health. 4(9A), Special Issue I (Aging), pp. 695-702. doi: 10.4236/health.2012.429109.
A.A. Brewer, B. Barton. (2012) Visual field map organization in human visual cortex. In Visual Cortex- Current Status and Perspectives, Eds. Stephane Molotchnikoff, Jean Rouat. ISBN: 978-953-51-0760-6. (Rijeka, Croatia: InTech) Ch. 2, pp. 30-60. doi:10.5772/51914.
D. Asher, A. Zaldivar, B. Barton, A.A. Brewer, J.L. Krichmar. (2012) Reciprocity and retaliation in social games with adaptive agents. IEEE Transactions on Autonomous Mental Development. 4(3), 226-238. doi:10.1109/TAMD.2012.2202658.
A.A. Brewer. (2009) Visual Maps: To merge or not to merge. Current Biology. 19(20):R945-7. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2009.09.016.
B.A. Wandell, S.O. Dumoulin, A.A. Brewer. (2009) Visual cortex in humans. In Encyclopedia of Neuroscience, Ed. L.R. Squire. (Oxford: Academic Press) Vol. 10, pp. 251-257.
B.A. Wandell, S.O. Dumoulin*, A.A. Brewer*. [*Authors had equal contribution.] (2007) Visual Field Maps in Human Cortex. Neuron. 56(2), 366-83. doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2007.10.012.
B. A. Wandell, S.O. Dumoulin, A. A. Brewer. (2006) Computational Neuroimaging; Color Signals in the Visual Pathways. Neuro-opthalmology Japan. 23(3), 324-343.
S.M. Smirnakis, M. Schmid, A.A. Brewer, A.S. Tolias, A. Shuz, M. Augath, W. Inhoffen, B.A. Wandell, N.K. Logothetis. (2005) Neuroscience: Rewiring the adult brain (Reply). Nature. 438(7065), E3-E4. doi:10.1038/nature04360.
A.A. Brewer, J. Liu, A.R. Wade, B.A. Wandell. (2005) Visual field maps and stimulus selectivity in human ventral occipital cortex. Nature Neuroscience. 8(8), 1102-9. doi:10.1038/nn1507.
S.M. Smirnakis, A.A. Brewer*, M. Schmid*, A.S. Tolias, M. Augath, W. Inhoffen, A. Shuz, B.A. Wandell, N.K. Logothetis, [*Authors had equal contribution]. (2005) Lack of long-term cortical reorganization after macaque retinal lesions. Nature. 435(7040), 300-7. doi:10.1038/nature03495.
News and Views by M. I. Sereno (Nature. 435, 288-289).
R.F. Dougherty, M. Ben-Shacher, R. Bammer, A.A. Brewer, B.A. Wandell. (2005) Functional organization of human occipital-callosal fiber tracts. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) USA. 102(20), 7350-5. doi:10.1073/pnas.0500003102.
B.A. Wandell, A.A. Brewer, R.F. Dougherty. (2005) Visual field map clusters in human cortex. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, Series B. (London). Vol: 360, 693-707. (Special theme issue ‘Cerebral cartography 1905–2005’.) doi:10.1098/rstb.2005.1628.
B.A. Wandell, R.F. Dougherty, A. Brewer, M. Ben-Shachar, R. Bammer, G. Deutsch. (2004) Measuring activity and structure in the human brain. Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics News. Vol: 37 (7).
R. F. Dougherty, V. M. Koch, A.A. Brewer, B. Fischer, J. Modersitzki, B. A. Wandell. (2003) Visual field representations and locations of visual areas V1/2/3 in human visual cortex. Journal of Vision. 3(10), 586-598. doi:10.1167/3.10.1.
I. Fine, A.R. Wade, A.A. Brewer, M.G. May, D.F. Goodman, G.M. Boynton, B.A. Wandell, D.I. MacLeod. (2003) Long-term deprivation affects visual perception and cortex. Nature Neuroscience. 6(9), 915-916. doi:10.1038/nn1102.
A.A. Brewer, W. A. Press, N. K. Logothetis, B. A. Wandell. (2002) Visual areas in macaque cortex measured using functional magnetic resonance imaging. Journal of Neuroscience. 22(23), 10416-10426.
A.R. Wade, A.A. Brewer, B.A. Wandell. (2002) Functional Measurements of Human Ventral Occipital Cortex: Retinotopy and Color. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, Series B. (London). Vol: 357, No.1424, 963- 973. doi:10.1098/rstb.2002.1108.
H.A. Baseler, A.A. Brewer, L.T. Sharpe, A.B. Morland, H. Jägle, B.A. Wandell. (2002) Reorganization of human cortical maps caused by inherited photoreceptor abnormalities. Nature Neuroscience. 5(4), 364-70. doi:10.1038/nn817.
W.A. Press, A.A. Brewer, R.F. Dougherty, A.R. Wade, B.A. Wandell. (2001) Visual areas and spatial summation in human visual cortex. Vision Research. 41(10-11), 1321-32. doi: 10.1016/S0042-6989(01)00074-8
Research Centers
Center for Cognitive Neuroscience & Engineering
Center for Hearing Research
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