COVID-19 Updates

Visit UC San Diego's Coronavirus portal for the latest information for the campus community.

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.