Douglas Nitz

Douglas Nitz, PhD

Associate Professor
Department of Cognitive Science

Contact Information

UC San Diego
9500 Gilman Drive #0515
La Jolla, CA 92093

Office: 858-534-1132
Lab website:

Our research program aims to determine the neural basis for spatial cognition, decision-making, and episodic memory. Recent projects have focused primarily on examination of multiple single-unit recordings made in freely behaving animals. Our most recent work concerns recordings made in the parietal cortex, hippocampus, subiculum, and premotor cortex in rats performing either a multiple-T working memory task or executing traversals of differently shaped spiral paths. One new project will examine the activity patterns of basal forebrain neurons during performance of a task demanding dynamic allocation of attentional resources.

Nitz, D.A (2012) Spaces within spaces: rat parietal cortex neurons register position across three reference frames. Nature Neuroscience 15, pgs. 1365-1367.

Avery, M.C., Nitz, D.A., Chiba, A.A., Krichmar, J.L. (2012) Simulation of cholinergic and noradrenergic modulation of behavior in uncertain environments. Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience 6(5), pgs. 1-6.

Chen, Y., Nitz, D.A. (2011) A unified description of cerebellar inter-spike interval distributions and variabilities using summation of Gaussians. Network: Computation in Neural Systems 22(1-4), pgs. 75-96.

Nitz, D.A. (2011) Path shape impacts the exent of CA1 pattern recurrence both within and across environments. J. Neurophysiology 105, pgs. 1815-1824.

Quinn, L.K., NitZ, D.A., Chiba, A.A. (2010) Learning-dependent dynamics of beta-frequency oscillations in the basal forebrain of rats. Eur. J. Neuroscience, pgs. 1-9.

Nitz, D.A. (2009) Parietal cortex, navigation, and the construction of arbitrary reference frames for spatial information. Neurobiol. Learn. Mem., 91(2): 179-85.

Nitz, D.A. (2006) Tracking route progression in the posterior parietal cortex. Neuron, 49: 747-756.

Wilent, W.B., Nitz, D.A. (2007) Discrete place fields of hippocampal formation interneurons. J. Neurophysiol. 97(6):4152-61.

Kargo, W.J., Szatmary B., Nitz, D.A. (2007) Adaptation of prefrontal cortical firing patterns and their fidelity to changes in action-reward contingencies. J. Neurosci. 27(13):3548-59.

Krichmar, J.L., Nitz, D.A., Gally, J.A., Edelman, G.M. (2005) Characterizing functional hippocampal pathways in a brain-based device as it solves a spatial memory task. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., 102(6), 2111-16.

Nitz, D.A., McNaughton, B.L. (2004) Differential modulation of CA1 and Dentate Gyrus interneurons during exploration of novel environments. J. Neurophysiology, 93(2):863-72.

Kargo, W.J., Nitz, D.A. (2004) Improvements in the signal-to-noise ratio of motor cortex cells distinguish early versus late phases of motor skill learning. J. Neuroscience, 24(24):5560-9.

Kargo, W.J., Nitz, D.A. (2003) Early skill learning is expressed through selection and tuning of cortically represented muscle synergies. J. Neuroscience, 23(35):11255-69.

Chen, Y., Nitz, D.A. (2003) Use of 'relative-phase' analysis to assess correlation between neuronal spike trains. Biol. Cybern. 88(3):177-82.

Nitz, D.A., van Swinderen B., Tononi G., Greenspan R.J. (2002) Electrophysiological correlates of rest and activity in Drosophila melanogaster. Current Biology. 12(22):1934-40.

Nitz, D., Tononi, G. (2002) Tonic rhythmic activity of rat cerebellar neurons. Exp. Brain. Res. 146(2):265-70. (PDF)

Nitz, D.A., McNaughton, B.L. (1999) Hippocampal EEG and unit activity responses to modulation of serotonergic median raphe neurons in the freely behaving rat. Learning and Memory 6(2):153-67.

Nitz, D., Siegel, J. (1997) GABA release in the dorsal raphe nucleus: role in the control of REM sleep. Am. J. Physiol. 273(1 pt 2):R451-5.