Scott Grafton

Scott Grafton photo

Distinguished Professor

Research Area

Cognition, Perception, and Cognitive Neuroscience


Scott Grafton received BA's in Mathematics and Psychobiology from the University of California at Santa Cruz and his MD degree from the University of Southern California. He completed a Neurology residency at the University of Washington and a residency in Nuclear Medicine at UCLA. He was a research fellow in Neuroimaging at UCLA where he developed methods for mapping human brain activity using positron emission tomography. With this he focused on brain plasticity during motor learning and the reorganization of the nervous system in the face of injury or neurodegeneration. He went on to develop brain imaging programs at University of Southern California, Emory University and Dartmouth College. He joined the UCSB faculty in 2006 and is director of the UCSB Imaging Center. The center uses fMRI, magnetic stimulation and high density EEG to characterize the neural basis of goal directed behavior.


Professor Grafton is interested in how people organize movement into goal-oriented action. The emphasis is on elucidating the cognitive architecture that underlies action representation. This is developed with studies of sequence and skill acquisition, motor simulation, sensorimotor transformation, on-line control and action observation experiments. Brain-behavior relationships are defined using fMRI, transcranial magnetic stimulation, patient based research and high-density electroencephalography.

Selected Publications

  • Volz LJ, Cieslak M, Grafton ST. A probabilistic atlas of fiber crossings for variability reduction of anisotropy measures. Brain Structure and Function. 223:635-651, 2018.

  • Greene C, Cieslak M, Grafton ST. Effect of different spatial normalization approaches on tractography and structural brain networks. Network Neuroscience. 2:362-380, 2018.

  • Becker CO, Pequito S, Pappas GJ, Miller MB, Grafton ST, Bassett DB, Preciado VM. Spectral mapping of brain functional connectivity from diffusion imaging. Scientific Reports. 8:1411, 2018.

  • Reddy P, Mattar M, Murphy A, Wymbs N, Grafton S, Satterthwaite T, Bassett DB. Brain State Flexibility Accompanies Motor-Skill Acquisition. NeuroImage. 171: 135-147, 2018.

  • Gu S, Cieslak M, Baird B, Muldoon SF, Grafton ST, Pasqualetti F, Bassett DS. The Energy Landscape of Neurophysiological Activity Implicit in Brain Network Structure. Scientific Reports, 8:2507, 2018.

  • Thurman S, Wasylyshy N, Roy H, Lieberman  G, Garcia JO, Asturias A, Okafor GN, Elliott JC, Giesbrecht  B, Grafton ST, Mednick SC, Vettel JM. Individual differences in compliance and agreement for sleep logs and wrist actigraphy: A longitudinal study of naturalistic sleep in healthy adults. PLoS ONE. 13: e0191883, 2018.

  • Mattar MG, Wymbs NF, Bock AS, Aguirre GK, Grafton ST, Bassett DS. Predicting future learning from baseline network architecture. NeuroImage. 172: 107-117, 2018.

  • Hallgrimsson HT, Cieslak C, Foschini L, Grafton ST, Singh AK. Spatial Coherence of Oriented White Matter Microstructure: Applications to White Matter Regions Associated with Genetic Similarity. NeuroImage. 172:390-403, 2018.

  • Marneweck M, Barany DA, Santello M, Grafton ST. Neural representations of sensorimotor memory- and digit position-based load force adjustments before the onset of dexterous object manipulation. J Neuroscience. 38:4724-4737, 2018.

  • Lee, TG, Acuna DE, Körding KT, Grafton ST. Limiting motor skill knowledge via incidental training protects against choking under pressure. Psychonom Bull and Rev. 26: 279-290, 2019. 

  • Grafton ST, Ralston AB, Ralston JD. Monitoring of Postural Sway with a Head-Mounted Wearable Device: Effects of Gender, Participant State, and Concussion. Medical Devices: Evidence and Research. 12:151-164, 2019.

  • Greene C, Cieslak M, Volz M, Rose K,  Grafton ST. Finding Maximally Disconnected Subnetworks with Shortest Path Tractography. NeuroImage Clinical. In press 2019.