Dennis Perez, Jr.

PhD Student


I am from Merced, California!


At UC Merced, I obtained an M.S. in Cognitive and Information Sciences and engaged in research in computational modeling. My investigations centered on the effects of neurodevelopmental disorders, particularly ADHD, on cognitive processes such as learning, memory, and behavior. I concentrated my research on the prefrontal cortex to gain insights into the underlying neural mechanisms involved in these disorders, and to understand how they differ from typical brain functions. My ultimate goal was to contribute to a deeper comprehension of the complex workings of the brain, particularly in individuals with neurodevelopmental conditions.


Throughout my academic journey, I have come to appreciate the fundamental role of sensory modalities in connecting our biology to the physical world. I am intrigued by the ways in which external stimuli can modify and enhance our neural architecture, empowering us to shape our environment while also being shaped by it in return. My passion for this field has inevitably led me to the study of vision, a sense that is arguably the most compelling and fascinating. The intricate neural structure of the visual system has allowed for groundbreaking discoveries of the brain. Through my research in vision science, I have been exposed to a wealth of interdisciplinary knowledge that has inspired me to continue exploring and developing as a scientist.


I am currently conducting a lab rotation with Dr. Jacob Yates, where we are investigating neural activity in the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN). My current primary objective is to develop machine learning models that can effectively characterize the neural response properties of LGN neurons when exposed to multidimensional stimuli, whether they are artificial or natural. By doing so, we aim to gain a deeper understanding of the neural mechanisms underlying visual perception and to establish models of visual processing in the brain.


Studying the complexities of the visual system has led me to appreciate its vital role in our lives and to recognize the potential for vision science to offer invaluable insights into neurological phenomena that may not be well understood. This prospect has inspired me to pursue a career in research and to contribute to the development of innovative approaches for improving visual function and addressing vision-related disorders. I am excited to work in this field and to explore the possibilities of using cutting-edge techniques to deepen our understanding of the brain and its intricate workings.


I enjoy taking my family on trips, watching movies, drawing, and playing baseball! I loved riding my motorcycle when I had one, but promises were made to my family, so I can no longer ride haha.