Sabine Kastner
Human Neuroscience
Human Neuroscience

Professor of Psychology and The Princeton Neuroscience Institute

M.D., University of Dusseldorf, Germany, 1993
Ph.D., University of Gottingen, Germany, 1994
Research Lab
PDF icon sabine-kastner-cv-2014.pdf
140 Neuroscience

Research Focus

The goal of our research program is to better understand how large-scale networks operate during cognition. We use the visual attention network as a model network. Our work is guided by the questions how large-scale networks set up efficient communication and which neural code is used in different network nodes to drive behavior. We study these issues in two primate brain models, the human and the macaque monkey, using an integrated and complimentary methods approach of invasive electrophysiology (Electrocorticography in human epilepsy patients [together with Bob Knight, UC Berkeley, and Josef Parvizi, Stanford] and simultaneous multi-site recordings in monkeys) with several brain imaging modalities (functional magnetic resonance imaging, diffusion tensor imaging). Our studies in the two primate brain models are done in comparison that is afforded by tasks showing an identical behavioral pattern. Additional lines of research in the lab include the neural basis of attentional selection from natural scenes, the functional parcellation of the human parietal cortex, and the neural basis of object perception (including studies with patients suffering from object agnosia and amnesia together with Marlene Behrmann, Carnegie Mellon).


Sabine Kastner studies the neural basis of visual perception, attention, and awareness using a translational approach that combines neuroimaging in humans and monkeys, monkey physiology and studies in patients with brain lesions. Dr. Kastner earned an M.D. degree from the Heinrich-Heine University of Duesseldorf (Germany) and received a Ph.D. degree in neurophysiology from the Georg-August University, Goettingen (Germany) under the mentorship of the late Otto Creutzfeldt. After a postdoc at the Max-Planck-Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Goettingen and an internship in psychiatry, Dr. Kastner joined Leslie Ungerleider’s and Robert Desimone’s lab at the NIMH in Bethesda (1996-2000) before taking on a faculty position at Princeton, where she currently holds the rank of full professor. Dr. Kastner has served as the Scientific Director of Princeton’s neuroimaging facility since 2005. Dr. Kastner has published more than 100 articles in journals and books and has edited the Handbook of Attention (Oxford University Press, 2014). She is a Fellow of the American Psychological Society. Dr. Kastner’s contributions to the field of cognitive neuroscience were recognized with the Young Investigator Award from the Cognitive Neuroscience Society in 2005. Dr. Kastner serves on several editorial boards and is a Senior Editor for the Journal of Neuroscience.

Selected Publications

  • Szczepanski SM, Kastner S (2013): Shifting attentional priorities: Control of spatial attention through hemispheric competition. J. Neurosci. 33: 5411-5421.
  • Fiebelkorn IC, Saalmann YB, Kastner S (2013): Sustained spatial selection leads to an interplay of periodic behavioral effects defined by object boundaries. Current Biology 23: 2553-2558.
  • Saalmann YB, Pinsk MA, Wang L, Li X, Kastner S (2012): Pulvinar regulates information transmission between cortical areas according to attentional demands. Science 337: 753-756.
  • Wang L, Saalmann YB, Pinsk MA, Arcaro MJ, Kastner S (2012): Electrophysiological low-frequency coherence and cross-frequency coupling contributes to BOLD connectivity. Neuron 76, 1010-1020.
  • Saalmann Y, Kastner S (2011): Cognitive and perceptual functions of the thalamus. Neuron 71: 209-223.
  • Konen CS, Behrmann M, Nishimura M, Kastner S (2011). The functional neuroanatomy of visual agnosia: A case study. Neuron 71: 49-60.
  • Peelen MV, Kastner S (2011). A neural basis for naturalistic search in human extrastriate cortex. Proc.Natl. Acad. Sci. 108: 12125-12130.
  • Peelen MV, Fei-fei Li, Kastner S (2009). Neural basis of rapid scene categorization. Nature 460: 94-97.
  • Beck DM, Kastner S (2005). Stimulus context modulates competition in human extrastriate cortex. Nature Neurosci. 8: 1110-1116.
  • Wunderlich K, Schneider KA, Kastner S (2005): Neural correlates of binocular rivalry in the human LGN. Nature Neurosci. 8: 1595 – 1602.
  • O’Connor DH, Fukui MM, Pinsk MA, Kastner S (2002). Attention modulates responses in the human lateral geniculate nucleus. Nature Neurosci. 5: 1203-1209.
  • Kastner S, Ungerleider LG (2000). Mechanisms of visual attention in the human cortex. Ann. Rev. Neurosci. 23, 315-341.
  • Kastner S, Pinsk MA, De Weerd P, Desimone R, Ungerleider LG (1999). Increased activity in human visual cortex during directed attention in the absence of visual stimulation. Neuron 22: 751-761.
  • Kastner S, DeWeerd P, Desimone R, Ungerleider LG (1998). Mechanisms of directed attention in ventral extrastriate cortex as revealed by functional MRI. Science 282: 108-111.