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George R. Mangun


  • Ph.D., Neurosciences (Cognitive Neuroscience), University of California, San Diego, 1987
  • B.S., Chemistry (and Life Sciences), Northern Arizona University, 1981


George R. Mangun is Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Neurology at the University of California, Davis. He was the founding director of the Center for Mind and Brain at UC Davis, and served as Dean of Social Sciences in the College of Letters & Science from 2008-2015, and Chair of Psychology from 2016-2017. He leads the Laboratory for the Neural Mechanisms of Attention, and serves as Director of the Kavli Summer Institute in Cognitive Neuroscience. Professor Mangun consults on numerous university, U.S. government and international scientific panels and advisory boards, including for the National Institutes of Health, the National Academy of Sciences, the European Research Council and the Max Planck Society. He is coauthor of the textbook, Cognitive Neuroscience: The Biology of the Mind (W.W. Norton, 2013); now in its fourth edition, the book has been translated into French, Italian, Portuguese and Chinese. Among several other books and special journal issues, with Michael S. Gazzaniga, he is also the co-editor of the authoritative book, the The Cognitive Neurosciences (MIT Press, 2013).  Professor Mangun is an associate editor of the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, and the Treasurer of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society.

Research Focus

Professor Mangun's work on the cognitive neuroscience of attention investigates how we perceive, attend, ignore and become aware of events in our environment. Recordings of event-related brain potentials (ERP) from healthy persons and special patient groups provide high temporal resolution measures of stimulus processing in the human brain. The goal of this research is to identify the mechanisms of attentional selection by permitting sensory analysis of attended and ignored stimuli to be studied under a wide variety of task circumstances. To identify the brain systems and circuits involved in various attentional processes (i.e., control and selection), tools such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) are used in conjunction with ERPs. fMRI permits the living human brain to be revealed as it functions to enable our sensations, thoughts and actions. The information obtained from these combined behavioral, neuropsychological and neurophysiological studies yields insight into the computational and functional neuroanatomical structure of human cognition, and is essential for addressing the deficits in attention and awareness that accompany neurological and psychiatric disease.
Lab Webpage

Selected Publications

  • Briggs, F., Mangun, G.R., and Usrey, W.M. (2013). Attention enhances synaptic efficacy and signal-to-noise in neural circuits. Nature, 499:476-480.
  • Mazaheri, A., Fassbender, C., Coffey-Corina, S., Hartanto, T.A., Schweitzer, J.B. and Mangun, G.R.  (2014). Differential top-down oscillatory EEG between ADHD subtypes and typically developing adolescents. Biological Psychiatry, 76(5):422-429.
  • Bengson, J.J., Kelley, T.A., Zhang, X., Wang, J.-L., and Mangun, G.R. (2014). Spontaneous neural fluctuations predict decisions to attend. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 26(11):2578-84
  • Bengson, J.J., Kelley, T. & Mangun, G.R. (2015). The neural correlates of volitional attention: a combined fMRI and ERP study. Human Brain Mapping, 36(7):2443-54.
  • Liu, Y., Bengson, J., Huang, H., Mangun, G.R., and Ding, M. (2016). Top-down modulation of neural activity in anticipatory visual attention: Control mechanisms revealed by simultaneous EEG-fMRI. Cerebral Cortex, 26(2):517-29.
  • Liu, Y., Hong, X., Bengson, J.J., Kelley, T.A., Ding, M., & Mangun, G.R. (2017). Deciding where to attend: Large-scale network mechanisms underlying attention and intention revealed by graph-theoretic analysis. Neuroimage, May 26.[Epub ahead of print]


Professor Mangun teaches in the areas of cognitive psychology and neuroscience. He has taught courses in Cognitive Neuroscience, Cognitive Psychology, Perception, Mechanisms of Attention, and Brain and Mind.


Among other honors, in 2007 he was elected a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science (APS), and in 2010 he was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Professor Mangun was honored by AAAS for distinguished contributions to psychology and cognitive neuroscience in research on brain attention mechanisms, and in teaching, service, administration and the dissemination of knowledge. His research is supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF).