John Gabrieli

John D.E. Gabrieli, Ph.D.

Principal Investigator
Director, Athinoula A. Martinos Imaging Center
Grover Hermann Professor of Health Sciences and Technology and Cognitive Neuroscience
McGovern Institute for Brain Research
Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology (HST)
Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences
Massachusetts Insitute of Technology

43 Vassar St, Office: 46-4033B, Cambridge, MA 02139
Phone: (617) 253-8946

Connect: EmailPubMed / Google ScholarResearchGate

John Gabrieli is the director of the Athinoula A. Martinos Imaging Center at the McGovern Institute. He is an Investigator at the Institute, with faculty appointments in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and the Institute for Medical Engineering & Science, where he holds the Grover Hermann Professorship.

He also has appointments in the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and is the director of the MIT Integrated Learning Initiative. Prior to joining MIT in 2005, he spent 14 years at Stanford University in the Department of Psychology and Neurosciences Program. He received a Ph.D. in Behavioral Neuroscience in the MIT Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and a B.A. in English from Yale University. In 2016 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Images of Mind

John Gabrieli’s goal is to understand the organization of memory, thought, and emotion in the human brain. By combining brain imaging with behavioral tests, he studies the neural basis of these abilities in human subjects. In collaboration with clinical colleagues, Gabrieli also seeks to use brain imaging to better understand, diagnose, and select treatments for neurological and psychiatric diseases.

Informing Education

One important research theme is the neural basis of learning in children.  Gabrieli and colleagues have recently found structural differences in the brains of young children who are at risk for reading difficulties.  Their findings suggest that it may be possible to target at-risk children for early intervention rather than waiting until they are already struggling to read.  In another recent study, they have shown that adults and children with dyslexia show altered patterns of activity in many brain regions, an effect that may provide new insights into the fundamental cause of this condition.  Gabrieli is also interested in the development of cognitive skills in school-age children, and in identifying ways that neuroscience could help improve educational outcomes.

Diagnosing and Treating Psychiatric Disease

Neuroimaging can also provide new insights into psychiatric disorders such as depression, schizophrenia and anxiety disorders. Gabrieli and colleagues collaborate with clinical researchers at McLean Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital to examine the brains of psychiatric patients, with the ultimate goal of using neuroimaging to better diagnose and treat mental illness. In one recent study they have shown that it may be possible to identify children at risk for depression before symptoms appear.  In another study, they have shown that brain scans of people with social anxiety disorders can help predict which individuals are most likely to benefit from a particular therapeutic intervention.

Academic Positions

Director, 2016 – present
MIT Integrated Learning Initiative (MITili)

Associate Researcher, 2012 – present
Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital

Principal Investigator, 2010 – present
McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Grover Hermann Professor of Health Sciences and Technology and Cognitive Neuroscience, 2005 – present
Institute for Medical Engineering & Science, and Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Director, 2005 – present
Athinoula A. Martinos Imaging Center at McGovern Institute for Brain Research
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Member of the Faculty of Education, 2006 – present
Harvard Graduate School of Education

Visiting Professor, 1990 – Present
Department of Neurological Sciences, Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Hospital and Rush Medical College

Co-Director, 2005 – 2013
MIT Clinical Research Center

Professor (2002-2005), Associate Professor (1998-2002), and Assistant Professor (1991-1998)
Department of Psychology and Neurosciences Program, and by courtesy, Department of Radiology, Stanford University

Research Associate, 1989 – 2004
Memory Disorders Research Center, Boston VA Medical Center
and Boston University School of Medicine

Assistant Professor, 1988 – 1991
Department of Psychology, Northwestern University

Lecturer, 1988
Department of Psychology, Harvard University (Spring)

Postdoctoral Fellow, 1986 – 1988
Department of Psychology, Harvard University


Yale University, New Haven, CT
B.A., English, 1974 – 1978

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA
Ph.D., Behavioral Neuroscience, Department Brain and Cognitive Sciences, 1982-1987

Awards and Honors


– American Psychological Association Division 40 Robert A. and Phyllis Levitt Early Career Award in Neuropsychology (1996)
– DG Marquis Award for outstanding paper in Behavioral Neuroscience (2001) from Division 6 (Behavioral Neuroscience and Comparative Psychology) of the American Psychological Association
– Dean’s Award for Distinguished Teaching, Stanford University, 2001-2002
– Award for Excellence in Teaching, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, MIT, 2008-2009
– Award for Excellence in Teaching, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, MIT, 2011-2012
– Award for Excellence in Teaching, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, MIT, 2014-2015
– Award for Outstanding Postdoctoral Mentoring, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, MIT, 2014-2015
– Alice H. Garside Lifetime Achievement Award, Massachusetts Branch of the International Dyslexia Association, 2017


– Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2008
– Fellow, Association for Psychological Science, 2008
– Sage Center for the Mind, Visiting Scholar, 2015
– Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researcher, 2014
– Fellow, American Academy of Arts & Sciences, 2016


For a list of all published papers, please visit our Publications page.


Undergraduate Teaching:

– Cognitive Neuroscience of Memory, Harvard
– Cognitive Psychology, Northwestern
– General Experimental Psychology, Northwestern
– Psychology of Thinking, Northwestern
– Human Neuropsychology, Stanford
– Methods in Cognitive Science, Stanford
– Introductory Psychology, Stanford
– Senior Seminar, Cognitive Neuroscience, Stanford
– Introductory Psychology, MIT

Graduate Courses:

– Neural Plasticity, Northwestern
– Behavioral Neuroscience, Northwestern
– Topics in Psychobiology, Northwestern
– Cognitive Neuropsychology, Stanford
– Memory Systems, Stanford
– Brain Imaging, Stanford
– Cognitive Neuroscience, Stanford


– Sessions on experimental analyses of amnesia, connectionist models of memory disorders, and experimental analyses of cerebral laterality, James S. McDonnell Foundation Summer Institute in Cognitive Neuroscience, Harvard, 1988

– Memory Systems of the Human Brain
7th International Summer School in Cognitive Science, Sofia, NBU, Bulgaria, 2000

Editorial Boards and Committees

Editorial Boards:

– Behavioral Neuroscience (Associate Editor)
– Biological Psychiatry
– Cerebral Cortex
– Hippocampus
– Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences
– Journal of Neuroscience (Behavioral/Systems)
– Neuropsychology
– Psychological Bulletin (Associate Editor)
– Psychological Science (Associate Editor)
– Psychology and Aging


– IFCN 7 NIH Committee member
– NIMH IRG (ad hoc Perception and Cognition Scientific Research Review Committee)
– NIH Reviewers Reserve
– NINDS & NIA program project & center site visits
– Board of Scientific Counselors, NIMH (2004-2009)
– Society for Neuroscience Program Committee (1999-2002)
– Intelligence Science Board (2006-2010)
– National Security Agency Advisory Board – Neuroscience Panel (2009-2011)
– National Science Foundation Advisory Committee for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (2015- )


– Sigma Xi
– Memory Disorders Research Society
– American Psychological Association
– American Psychological Society
– Society for Neuroscience
– American Association for the Advancement of Science
– Psychonomic Society
– Society for Experimental Psychologists


US Patent 6,463,315 B1 “Analysis of Cerebral White Matter For Prognosis and Diagnosis of Neurological Disorders”

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