Gautam Agarwal, PhD

Assistant Professor of Neuroscience


Keck Science

Areas of Expertise

Decision Neuroscience
Game Theory
Mathematical Biology


I am interested in how experimental design and modeling can inform each other in unpacking the complexity of brain function. In one line of research, I analyze brain waves recorded by hundreds of electrodes. While these waves were thought to be a blurry reflection of the underlying neuronal population, I find conditions in which these waves carry surprisingly precise information about ongoing behavior. In another line of research, I developed a game (available at which I use to study how people discover solutions to hard problems. I find that humans display leaps of insight that distinguish them from current AI. Additionally, I collaborate with experimentalists who collect neural and behavioral data sets. Finally, I seek to interface neuroscience with other practices (such as medicine, psychology, meditation, dance, and media studies) to improve our quality of life both individually and collectively.

If you are a student who wants to pursue research in such directions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Research and Publications

Poo C, Agarwal G, Bonacchi N, Mainen Z. Spatial maps in olfactory cortex during olfactory navigation. BioRxiv, 2021.

Agarwal G. Local fields of the hippocampus: more than meets the eye. In Dualism, Platonism and Voluntarism. Explorations at the Quantum, Microscopic, Mesoscopic and Symbolic Neural Levels, 2016.

Agarwal G, Stevenson IH, Berényi A, Mizuseki K, Buzsáki G, Sommer FT. Spatially distributed local fields in the hippocampus encode rat position. Science, 2014.

Warp E, Agarwal G, Wyart C, Friedmann D, Oldfield CS, Conner A, Del Bene F, Arrenberg AB, Baier H, Isacoff EY. Emergence of patterned activity in the developing zebrafish spinal cord. Curr Biol, 2012.

Agarwal G and Isacoff EY. Specializations of a Pheromonal Glomerulus in the Drosophila Olfactory System. J Neurophysiol, 2011.