Neurophysiology and Behavior Lab

superimposed brain over a virtual face


Dr. Kanwal is interested in the neurodynamics of complex adaptive networks and in the brain’s design principles for socioemotional communication and decision making. Neural design principles of particular interest include hemispheric asymmetry, multifunctionality at the level of neurons and circuits, and fronto-amygdalar interactions. Research is conducted using animal and computational models as well as with human subjects. One of Dr. Kanwal’s goals is to understand the fundamental neural mechanisms that trigger the onset of autism spectrum and post-traumatic stress disorders, and to develop biomarkers for the propensity to develop these disorders. Affective sounds are used as a tool to perturb the brain while monitoring behavioral output and network activity via eye-tracking and EEG recordings, respectively. This approach together with advanced statistical (principal components, multidimensional scaling, clustering) and signal analysis (neural networks, graph theory, coherence, Fourier analysis) methods provides a quick and quantifiable way to observe individual variation in subsecond dynamics of brain networks. The resultant transient activity reflects the interaction of affect and cognition, particularly in the domain of memory, recall and decision-making, embedded within the default state of the network. Dr. Kanwal is also interested in the origins of music and how it can be used to alleviate mental impairments and physiological stress.

Dr. Kanwal’s research on awake, behaving animals is focused on understanding how communication sounds are represented in the cerebral cortex and amygdala. This work involves a neuroethological approach and the use of spiking and synaptic electrophysiology to elucidate the coding and decoding complex of sounds.

Contact Information

Jagmeet S. Kanwal, PhD
Georgetown University
Work phone: 202-687-1305

Research Team

Principal Investigator: Jagmeet S. Kanwal, PhD

Research Associate: Andrei Medvedev

Research Engineer: Zhicheng Lai

Research Assistant: Matthew Clement

Graduate Student: R. Thomas Naumann 


  • Danielle LoRe (Human Science, Sch. of Nursing and Health Studies)
  • Nitesh Rana, MS, (GU Medical School)
  • Xitong Liang (Peking University). 


External Collaborators

  • Nobuo Suga, PhD (Washington University, St. Louis, MO, 63130)
  • Christoph Micheyl, PhD (University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, 5545)
  • Dr. Karl Esser PhD, (Center for Systems Neuroscience, University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Germany).
  • Drs. Fung Jian, PhD and Liu Ying, PhD (Key Laboratory for Wetland Ecology, Northeast Normal University, Changchun, China).


  1. Washington S.D. and Kanwal J.S. (2012) Sex-dependent hemispheric asymmetries for processing frequency modulations in the primary auditory cortex of the mustached bat. J. Neurophysiol (in review).
  2. Clement M.J. and Kanwal J.S., (2012) Simple syllabic calls accompany discrete behavior patterns in captive Pteronotus parnellii: An illustration of the motivation-structure hypothesis. The Scientific World Journal, vol. 2012, Article ID 128695, 16 pages, doi:10.1100/2012/128695
  3. Kanwal J.S. (2012) Right-left asymmetry in the cortical processing of sounds for social communication vs navigation in mustached bats. Eu. J. Neurosci. 35: 257-270; doi:10.1111/j.1460-9568.2011.07951.
  4. Naumann, R.T. and Kanwal J.S. (2011) The basolateral amygdala responds robustly to social calls: spiking characteristics of single unit activity. J. Neurophysiol. 105:2389-2404.
  5. Wang, J. Kanwal J.S., Zhang, C., Jiang. T. Lu, G. and Feng, J. (2010) Seasonal habitat use by greater horseshoe bat Rhinolophus ferrumequinum (Chiroptera: Rhinolophidae) in Changbai Mountain temperate forest, Northeast China. Mammalia 74:257–266.
  6. Ma, J., Naumann, R.T. and Kanwal J.S. (2010) Fear conditioned discrimination of frequency modulated sweeps within species-specific calls of mustached bats. PLoS ONE, 5:1-12. e10579.
  7. Kanwal J.S. (2009) Animal Communication: Taxonomic Groups: Audiovocal communication in bats (ms # 1839) NEW ENCYCLOPEDIA OF NEUROSCIENCE, ELSEVIER. Vol.1, pp. 681-690.
  8. Washington S.D. and Kanwal J.S. (2008) DSCF neurons within the primary auditory cortex of the mustached bat process frequency modulations present within social calls. J. Neurophysiol. DOI: 10.1152/jn.90442.2008.
  9. Medvedev AV, Kanwal J.S. (2008) Communication call-evoked gamma-band activity in the auditory cortex of awake bats is modified by complex acoustic features. Brain Res. Jan 10;1188:76-86.
  10. Kanwal J.S. and Rauschecker, J.P. (2007) Auditory Cortex of Bats and Primates: Managing species-specific calls for social communication. Front Biosci. 12:4621-4640.
  11. Kanwal J.S. (2006) A distributed cortical representation of social calls. In: J.S. Kanwal and G. Ehret, (eds.) BEHAVIOR AND NEURODYNAMICS FOR AUDITORY COMMUNICATION, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge England, pp. 156-188.