Faculty Profile: Wael Asaad, MD, PhD

Wael Asaad
Wael Asaad, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery
Bio Med Neurosurgery
My lab is interested in how the frontal cortex and basal ganglia work together to enable rapid learning and highly-contingent decision making. Our methods involve multi-electrode neuronal recordings as well as neurostimulation in human and nonhuman subjects, in both the operative and laboratory settings. We're interested in developing ways to foster or augment learning to improve recovery from neurologic illness or injury.


Wael Asaad received his undergraduate degree from Amherst College, and then went on to earn a PhD in Systems Neuroscience from MIT, followed by an MD from Yale University. He completed a general surgery internship and neurosurgical residency at the Massachusetts General Hospital. He joined Brown University in 2011.

His lab seeks to improve our understanding of the basic neural mechanisms of learning, and to apply this knowledge to alleviate the cognitive and motor sequelae of human neurological illness and injury.

Selected Publications

  • Action Initiation in the Human Dorsal Anterior Cingulate Cortex. Srinivasan Lakshminarayan, Wael F. Asaad, Daniel T. Ginat, John T. Gale, Darin D. Dougherty, Ziv M. Williams, Terrence J. Sejnowski & Emad N. Eskandar, PLoS ONE, 2013, in-press (2013)
  • Studying Task-Related Activity of Individual Neurons in the Human Brain. Shaun R. Patel, Sameer A. Sheth, Clarissa Martinez-Rubio, Matthew K. Mian, Wael F. Asaad, Jason L. Gerrard, Churl-Su Kwon, Daniel D. Dougherty, Alice W. Flaherty, Benjamin D. Greenberg, John T. Gale, Ziv M. Williams & Emad N. Eskandar, Nature Protocols, 2013, in-press (2013)
  • High-Performance Execution of Psychophysical Tasks with Complex Visual Stimuli in MATLAB. Wael F. Asaad, Navaneethan Santhanam, Steven M. McClellan & David J. Freedman, Journal of Neurophysiology, 2013, Vol. 109, pp. 249-260 (2013)
  • Human Dorsal Anterior Cingulate Cortex Neurons Mediate Ongoing Behavioral Adaptation. Sameer A. Sheth, Matt K. Mian, Shaun R. Patel, Wael F. Asaad, Ziv M. Williams, Darin D. Dougherty, George Bush & Emad N. Eskandar. Nature, 2012, Vol. 488 (7410), pp. 218-221 (2012)
  • Craniectomy for Malignant Cerebral Infarction: Prevalence and Outcomes in U.S. Hospitals. Brian P. Walcott, Elena V. Kuklina, Brian V. Nahed, Mary G. George, Kristopher T. Kahle, J. Marc Simard, Wael F. Asaad & Jean-Valery C.E. Coumans. PLoS ONE, 2011, Vol. 6 (12), pp. e29193 (2011)
  • Encoding of both Positive and Negative Reward Prediction Errors by Neurons of the Primate Prefrontal Cortex and Caudate Nucleus. Wael F. Asaad & Emad N. Eskandar. Journal of Neuroscience, 2011, Vol. 31 (49), pp. 17772-17787 (2011)
  • Intraoperative Neurophysiologic Monitoring of the Cranial Nerves and Brainstem. Wael F. Asaad, Mirela V. Simon & Emad N. Eskandar. Handbook of Neuromonitoring, 2010, pp 299-322, Mirela V. Simon, Ed, Demos Medical Publishing (2010)
  • Operative management of brainstem cavernous malformations. Wael F. Asaad, Brian P. Walcott, Brian V. Nahed & Christopher S. Ogilvy. Neurosurgical Focus, 2010, Vol. 29 No. 3 E10 (2010)
  • The Surgical Management of Trigeminal Neuralgia. Wael F. Asaad & Emad N. Eskandar. Bonica's Management of Pain, 4th edition, 2009, Fishman, Ballantyne & Rathmell, Eds., Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, Pub. (2009)
  • Risk Factors for Hemorrhage during Microelectrode Guided Deep Brain Stimulation and the Introduction of an Improved Microelectrode Design. Sherona Ben-Haim, Wael F. Asaad, John T. Gale & Emad N. Eskandar. Neurosurgery, 2009, Vol. 64 (4), pp. 754-762 (2009)
  • The Movers and Shakers of Deep Brain Stimulation. Wael Asaad & Emad Eskandar. Nature Medicine, 2008, Vol. 14 No. 1, pp. 17-19 (2008)
  • Prospective Assessment of Stereotactic Ablative Surgery for Intractable Major Depression. Don C. Shields, Wael F. Asaad, Emad N. Eskandar, Felipe A. Jain, G. Reese Cosgrove, Alice W. Flaherty, Edward H. Cassem, Bruce H. Price, Scott L. Rauch, & Daniel D. Dougherty. Biological Psychiatry, 2008, Vol. 64, pp. 449-454 (2008)
  • Achieving Behavioral Control with Millisecond Resolution in a High-Level Programming Environment. Wael F. Asaad & Emad N. Eskandar. Journal of Neuroscience Methods, 2008, Vol. 173, pp. 235-240 (2008)
  • A Flexible Software Tool for Temporally-Precise Behavioral Control in Matlab. Wael F. Asaad & Emad N. Eskandar. Journal of Neuroscience Methods, 2008, Vol. 174, pp. 245-258 (2008)
  • A Neural Model of Flexible Sensori-Motor Mapping: Learning and Forgetting on Multiple Time-Scales. Stefano Fusi, Wael F. Asaad, Earl K. Miller, & Xiao-Jing Wang. Neuron, 2007, Vol. 54, pp. 319-333 (2007)
  • Deep Brain Stimulation for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Wael F. Asaad & Emad N. Eskandar. NeuroEngineering, 2007, pp. 91-96, D. DiLorenzo & J. Bronzino, eds. CRC Press (2007)
  • The Prefrontal Cortex: Conjunction and Cognition. Earl K. Miller & Wael F. Asaad. The Handbook of Neuropsychology (2nd ed.), 2002, pp. 29-54. F. Boller & J. Grafman, eds. Elsevier Press (2002)
  • Task-Specific Neural Activity in the Primate Prefrontal Cortex. Wael F. Asaad, Gregor Rainer, & Earl K. Miller. Journal of Neurophysiology, 2000, Vol. 84, pp. 451-459 (2000)
  • Attenuation of NMDA Receptor Activity and Neurotoxicity by Nitroxyl Anion (NO-). Won Ki Kim, Yun-Beum Choi, Posina V. Rayadu, Prajnan Das, Wael Asaad, Derrick R. Arnelle, Jonathan S. Stamler, & Stuart A. Lipton. Neuron, 1999, Vol.24, pp. 461-469 (1999)
  • Selective Representation of Relevant Information in the Primate Prefrontal Cortex. Gregor Rainer, Wael F. Asaad & Earl K. Miller. Nature, 1998, Vol.393, pp. 577-579 (1998)
  • Neural Activity in the Primate Prefrontal Cortex during Associative Learning. Wael F. Asaad, Gregor Rainer, & Earl K. Miller. Neuron, 1998, Vol. 21, pp. 1399-1407 (1998)
  • Memory Fields of Neurons in the Primate Prefrontal Cortex. Gregor Rainer, Wael F. Asaad & Earl K. Miller. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., USA, 1998, Vol.95, pp. 15008-15013 (1998)
  • Concentric Orientation Summation in Human Form Vision. Hugh R. Wilson, Frances W. Wilkinson & Wael Asaad. Vision Research, 1997, Vol. 37 No.17, pp. 2325-2330 (1997)