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Jon Kaas

Distinguished Centennial Professor of Psychology
Associate Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology
Professor of Radiology and Radiological Sciences

Kaas's major research interests are in the evolution and functional organization of sensory-perceptual, cognitive, and motor systems, especially in primates, in the development of these systems, and in how these systems are plastic in response to injury and use in developing and adult brains. Special research emphasis is placed on studying visual, auditory and somatosensory systems, but current studies are also concerned with multimodal and sensorimotor integration in parietal and frontal cortex. Research questions are addressed with a range of electrophysiological, neuroanatomical, biochemical, and behavioral techniques. Teaching interests are in neuroscience, biological psychology, and animal behavior.

Current Research

  • Single and multielectrode recordings of neurons in primary somatosensory cortex of monkeys.
  • Optical imaging of functional subdivisions of visual cortex in monkeys.
  • Studies of anatomical connections of neural networks in brain systems devoted to somatosensory, visual, auditory, motor, and gustatory functions in monkeys.
  • Studies of brain architecture.

Research Associates

  • Iwona Stepniewska, Research Assistant Professor, Ph.D. 1985 in Neurophysiology, Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology, Warsaw, Poland. Major Research Interests: visual and motor systems, and the organization of the thalamus in primates.
  • Hui-Xin Qi, Research Assistant Professor, Ph.D., 1996 in Neurophysiology, University of Zurich, Switzerland.  Major Research Interests: neuroanatomy and neurophysiology of somatosensory systems of primates, and plasticity of somatosensory and motor systems in adult and developing primates.

Previous Positions

  • Assistant Professor, University of Wisconsin, Neurophysiology Dept. 1968-1972.

Representative Publications

Top cited:

Pons, T. P., Garraghty, P. E., Ommaya, A. K., Kaas, J. H., Taub, E., & Mishkin, M. (1991). Massive cortical reorganization after sensory deafferentation in adult macaques. Science252(5014), 1857-1860.

Merzenich, M. M., Kaas, J. H., Wall, J., Nelson, R. J., Sur, M., & Felleman, D. (1983). Topographic reorganization of somatosensory cortical areas 3b and 1 in adult monkeys following restricted deafferentation. Neuroscience8(1), 33-55

Kaas, J. H. (1991). Plasticity of sensory and motor maps in adult mammals. Annual review of neuroscience14(1), 137-167.

Kaas, J. H., & Hackett, T. A. (2000). Subdivisions of auditory cortex and processing streams in primates. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences97(22), 11793-11799.

Full list through Google Scholar



  • 1985 The Earl Sutherland Prize for Achievement in Research, awarded by Vanderbilt University
  • 1987 Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award
  • 1988 Krieg Cortical Discoverer Award, Cajal Club
  • 1991 Elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • 1994 American Psychological Association Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award
  • 1994 Elected Member, International Neuropsychology Symposium
  • 1998 La Jolla Group for Explaining the Origin of Humans, elected member
  • 1999-2000 Fellowship, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford
  • 2000 Elected Member National Academy of Sciences
  • 2001 Elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • 2001 Elected Member of the Society of Experimental Psychologists
  • 2006 Karl Spencer Lashley Prize, American Philosophical Society