Stephen Macknik

Stephen Macknik

Director of the Laboratory of Behavioral Neurophysiology

Barrow Neurological Institute

    Stephen is Director of the Laboratory of Behavioral Neurophysiology at BNI. He received a B.A. in Psychobiology, Psychology, and Biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a Ph.D in Neurobiology at Harvard University. He was a postdoctoral fellow with the Nobel Laureate Prof. David Hubel at Harvard Medical School, and also with Prof. Zach Mainen at Cold Spring Harbor Lab. He led his first independent laboratory at University College London before coming to BNI in 2004.

    Susana and Stephen are laboratory directors at the Barrow Neurological Institute (BNI) in Phoenix, Arizona, where they study various aspects of visual, sensory and cognitive neuroscience. Their research and outreach activities have been written up in hundreds of media stories including many that have appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Chicago Tribune, The Boston Globe, National Public Radio, Der Spiegel, New Scientist and Wired magazine. Both are monthly columnists for Their shared column on the neuroscience of illusions gets hundreds of thousands of hits every month. One of their recent column contributions is the most downloaded article in history.

    Susana and Stephen are founding board members of the Neural Correlate Society, and Susana serves as its Executive Chair. NCS hosts the annual “Best Visual Illusion of the Year Contest.” The contest’s website maintains an archive of visual illusions and their explanations for a broad audience, and receives almost three million hits per year. They both serve on the board of advisors for Scientific American: Mind and in addition to their column have published several feature articles in Scientific American (circulation > 1,000,000 readers) and several of its family of journals. Their academic publication credits include contributions to Nature, Nature Neuroscience, Neuron, Nature Reviews Neuroscience, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, and they have each authored over 75 academic publications.