A portrait of Laura Lewis

Laura Lewis

Athinoula A. Martinos Associate Professor, Electrical Engineering & Computer Science
Affiliate Member of The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory
Core Faculty Member, Institute for Medical Engineering & Science

Contact Info

Office: 10-174
Website: Lewis Lab

Administrative Assistant

Catherine M. Bourgeois
Office: Room 36-417
Phone: 617.253.0085
Computational and multimodal imaging techniques

Advancing neuroscience depends on developing tools for measuring and analyzing brain dynamics. Our research aims to improve inferences about human neural circuit activity using neuroimaging data. We develop new multimodal imaging and analysis approaches using accelerated fMRI, simultaneous EEG-fMRI, ultra-high field (7T) imaging, signal processing, and computational models, to track whole-brain activity at fast timescales in humans. Our work has shown that fast fMRI can be used to directly image oscillatory neural activity throughout the human brain.

Brain dynamics in sleep and sleep deprivation

Why does perception of the world change so dramatically while we sleep? And why does sleep deprivation impair perception and attention? We use computational and systems neuroscience approaches to study how dynamics in large-scale brain networks shift between sleep and wake states, and how they lead to cognitive dysfunction in sleep deprivation, both in the healthy brain and in neurological and psychiatric disorders. Our current clinical focus is on depression, healthy aging, and neurodegenerative disorders.

Neural control circuits for sleep and mood states

What control mechanisms govern brain network dynamics? Through multimodal imaging and computational models we are studying how deep brain circuits, such as in the thalamus, regulate and modulate cortical and behavioral states. Our work has identified specific thalamic circuits that can cause the brain to switch between sleep states. Ongoing projects are studying neuromodulatory systems in brainstem and thalamus.

Whole-brain physiological dynamics

Healthy brain function depends on the coordinated interaction of physiological processes such as blood flow, respiration, and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) flow. We aim to model and manipulate the dynamics of these systems to study neurovascular coupling, tissue oxygenation, and CSF regulation. Understanding these systems in turn enables us to improve analysis techniques for neuroimaging data, and to understand the role of blood flow and CSF flow in brain health.

Laura Lewis is the Athinoula A. Martinos Associate Professor in IMES and EECS at MIT, an affiliate member of The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, and an Associate Faculty Member at the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at MGH. She completed her Ph.D. in Neuroscience, and conducted postdoctoral work in neuroimaging, in the Society of Fellows at Harvard University. Her research develops multimodal approaches for imaging the human brain, and applies them to study the neural circuitry that controls sleep, and the consequences of sleep for brain function. Her work has shown that fast fMRI can measure subsecond neural dynamics, and discovered waves of cerebrospinal fluid flow that appear in the sleeping human brain. Her research has been recognized by awards such as the Peter and Patricia Gruber International Research Award, the Sloan Fellowship, the McKnight Scholar Award, and the Pew Scholar Award.
  • 2021 Sloan Research Fellow
  • 2021 McKnight Scholar Award
  • 2021 Pew Scholar Award
  • 2020 Searle Scholar Award
  • 2020 Smith Family Award for Excellence in Biomedical Research
  • 2019 One Mind Rising Star Award
  • 2017 Peter and Patricia Gruber International Research Award, Society for Neuroscience
Featured publications are below. For a full list visit the lab website linked above.

March 30, 2023
Williams, S.D., Setzer, B., Fultz, N.E., Valdiviezo, Z., Tacugue, B.N., Diamandis, Z., Lewis, L.D. (2023). PLOS Biology, doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.3002035.
September 16, 2022
Setzer, B., Fultz, N.E., Gomez, D., Williams, S.D., Bonmassar, G., Polimeni, J.R., Lewis, L.D. (2022). Nature Communications, 13:5442.
October 28, 2021
Lewis, L.D. (2021). Science. 374(6567):564-568.
January 15, 2020
Agrawal, U., Brown, E.N., Lewis, L.D. (2020). Neuroimage 205, 116231.
November 1, 2019
Fultz, N.E., Bonmassar, G., Setsompop, K., Stickgold, R.A., Rosen, B.R., Polimeni, J.R., Lewis, L.D. (2019). Science. 366 (6465), 628-631.

The Sleeping Brain

September 14, 2023
Neural activity during sleep has a signature structure that the brain uses to make profound improvements in our thinking and wellness

Fluid flow in the brain can be manipulated by sensory stimulation

April 10, 2023
Research Findings
Blood flow induced by visual stimulation drives the flow of cerebrospinal fluid

Daniel Gomez, Postdoctoral Researcher


Ewa Beldzik, Postdoctoral Researcher


Len Jacob, Postdoctoral Researcher


Beverly Setzer, Graduate Student


Zinong Yang, Graduate Student


Josh Levitt, Graduate Student


Sydney Bailes, Graduate Student


Makaila Banks, Graduate Student


Baarbod Ashenagar, Graduate Student


Stephanie Williams, Graduate Student


Nicholas Cicero, Graduate Student


Harrison Fisher, Graduate Student


Jessica Yee, Clinical Research Coordinator


Courtney Zambello, Lab Manager


Dabriel Zimmerman, Clinical Research Coordinator


Stephanie Anawke, Research Assistant