Valentin Dragoi

Valentin Dragoi, PhD

Rosemary and Daniel J. Harrison III Presidential Distinguished Chair in Neuroprosthetics, Department of Neurosurgery
Professor of Neuroscience in Neurosurgery, Academic Institute
Full Member, Research Institute
Scientific Director, Center for Neural Systems Restoration
Houston Methodist
Weill Cornell Medical College


Valentin Dragoi received his bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from the Technical University of Iasi (Romania) in 1989, and his Ph.D. from Duke University in 1997. His thesis was focused on learning and adaptive behavior and on computational neuroscience. As a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and the Picower Center for Learning and Memory at MIT, Valentin investigated the neural circuits of cortical adaptation in behaving animals. From 2003-2023, he was the Levit Distinguished Professorship in Neuroscience at the UTHealth McGovern Medical School. In 2023 Dr. Dragoi accepted a dual position with Houston Methodist and Rice University. He is currently Professor of Neuroscience in Neurosurgery at Houston Methodist Academic Institute and a core member of Rice University's Neuroengineering Initiative. 

Description of Research

Dr. Dragoi examines how networks of cortical neurons encode information and how the population code influences behavioral decisions in real time. Research in his laboratory combines electrophysiological (multi-electrode recording in restrained and freely moving animals, optical and electrical stimulation), behavioral, and computational methods. He received rigorous training in experimental and theoretical neuroscience. His goals are to understand the neuronal computations and coding principles of cortical circuits and develop new technologies for high-yield neuronal recording of brain activity.


Visuo-frontal interactions during social learning in freely moving macaques
Franch, M, Yellapantula, S, Parajuli, A, Kharas, N, Wright, A, Aazhang, B & Dragoi, V 2024, , Nature, vol. 627, no. 8002, pp. 174-181.

Population coding of strategic variables during foraging in freely moving macaques
Shahidi, N, Franch, M, Parajuli, A, Schrater, P, Wright, A, Pitkow, X & Dragoi, V 2024, , Nature Neuroscience, vol. 27, no. 4, pp. 772-781.

Publisher Correction: Visuo-frontal interactions during social learning in freely moving macaques (Nature, (2024), 627, 8002, (174-181), 10.1038/s41586-024-07084-x)
Franch, M, Yellapantula, S, Parajuli, A, Kharas, N, Wright, A, Aazhang, B & Dragoi, V 2024, , Nature, vol. 627, no. 8008, pp. E3.

Rapid compensatory plasticity revealed by dynamic correlated activity in monkeys in vivo
Andrei, AR, Akil, AE, Kharas, N, Rosenbaum, R, Josic, K & Dragoi, V 2023, , Nature Neuroscience, vol. 26, no. 11, pp. 1960-1969.

Endogenous fluctuations in cortical state selectively enhance different modes of sensory processing in human temporal lobe
Parajuli, A, Gutnisky, D, Tandon, N & Dragoi, V 2023, , Nature Communications, vol. 14, no. 1, 5591, pp. 5591.

Suppressing feedback signals to visual cortex abolishes attentional modulation
Debes, SR & Dragoi, V 2023, , Science, vol. 379, no. 6631, pp. 468-473.

Adaptive coding across visual features during free-viewing and fixation conditions
Nigam, S, Milton, R, Pojoga, S & Dragoi, V 2023, , Nature Communications, vol. 14, no. 1, 87.

Brain state limits propagation of neural signals in laminar cortical circuits
Kharas, N, Andrei, A, Debes, SR & Dragoi, V 2022, , Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 119, no. 30, e2104192119.

Learning by Exposure in the Visual System
Iliescu, BF, Hansen, B & Dragoi, V 2022, , Brain Sciences, vol. 12, no. 4, 508.

High-order interactions explain the collective behavior of cortical populations in executive but not sensory areas
Chelaru, MI, Eagleman, S, Andrei, AR, Milton, R, Kharas, N & Dragoi, V 2021, , Neuron, vol. 109, no. 24, pp. 3954-3961.e5.

Heterogeneous side effects of cortical inactivation in behaving animals
Andrei, AR, Debes, S, Chelaru, M, Liu, X, Rodarte, E, Spudich, JL, Janz, R & Dragoi, V 2021, , eLife, vol. 10, e66400.

A distinct population of heterogeneously color-tuned neurons in macaque visual cortex
Nigam, S, Pojoga, S & Dragoi, V 2021, , Science Advances, vol. 7, no. 8, eabc5837.

An Open Resource for Non-human Primate Optogenetics
Tremblay, S, Acker, L, Afraz, A, Albaugh, DL, Amita, H, Andrei, AR, Angelucci, A, Aschner, A, Balan, PF, Basso, MA, Benvenuti, G, Bohlen, MO, Caiola, MJ, Calcedo, R, Cavanaugh, J, Chen, Y, Chen, S, Chernov, MM, Clark, AM, Dai, J, Debes, SR, Deisseroth, K, Desimone, R, Dragoi, V, Egger, SW, Eldridge, MAG, El-Nahal, HG, Fabbrini, F, Federer, F, Fetsch, CR, Fortuna, MG, Friedman, RM, Fujii, N, Gail, A, Galvan, A, Ghosh, S, Gieselmann, MA, Gulli, RA, Hikosaka, O, Hosseini, EA, Hu, X, Hüer, J, Inoue, KI, Janz, R, Jazayeri, M, Jiang, R, Ju, N, Kar, K, Klein, C, Kohn, A, Komatsu, M, Maeda, K, Martinez-Trujillo, JC, Matsumoto, M, Maunsell, JHR, Mendoza-Halliday, D, Monosov, IE, Muers, RS, Nurminen, L, Ortiz-Rios, M, OShea, DJ, Palfi, S, Petkov, CI, Pojoga, S, Rajalingham, R, Ramakrishnan, C, Remington, ED, Revsine, C, Roe, AW, Sabes, PN, Saunders, RC, Scherberger, H, Schmid, MC, Schultz, W, Seidemann, E, Senova, YS, Shadlen, MN, Sheinberg, DL, Siu, C, Smith, Y, Solomon, SS, Sommer, MA, Spudich, JL, Stauffer, WR, Takada, M, Tang, S, Thiele, A, Treue, S, Vanduffel, W, Vogels, R, Whitmire, MP, Wichmann, T, Wurtz, RH, Xu, H, Yazdan-Shahmorad, A, Shenoy, KV, DiCarlo, JJ & Platt, ML 2020, , Neuron, vol. 108, no. 6, pp. 1075-1090.e6.

Precise measurement of correlations between frequency coupling and visual task performance
Young, J, Dragoi, V & Aazhang, B 2020, , Scientific Reports, vol. 10, no. 1, 17372.

Perceptually unidentifiable stimuli influence cortical processing and behavioral performance
Pojoga, SA, Kharas, N & Dragoi, V 2020, , Nature Communications, vol. 11, no. 1, 6109.

Dynamic states of population activity in prefrontal cortical networks of freely-moving macaque
Milton, R, Shahidi, N & Dragoi, V 2020, , Nature Communications, vol. 11, no. 1, 1948.

Pairwise Synchrony and Correlations Depend on the Structure of the Population Code in Visual Cortex
Koren, V, Andrei, AR, Hu, M, Dragoi, V & Obermayer, K 2020, , Cell Reports, vol. 33, no. 6, 108367.

Integration of cortical population signals for visual perception
Andrei, AR, Pojoga, S, Janz, R & Dragoi, V 2019, , Nature Communications, vol. 10, no. 1, 3832.

Synergistic Coding of Visual Information in Columnar Networks
Nigam, S, Pojoga, S & Dragoi, V 2019, , Neuron, vol. 104, no. 2, pp. 402-411.e4.

Reading-out task variables as a low-dimensional reconstruction of neural spike trains in single trials
Koren, V, Andrei, AR, Hu, M, Dragoi, V & Obermayer, K 2019, , PLoS ONE, vol. 14, no. 10, e0222649.