Aron Keith Barbey

Aron Keith Barbey
Aron Keith Barbey
  • Professor
  • Professor of Psychology
(217) 244-2551
2251 Beckman Institute

Primary Research Area

  • Bioimaging at Multi-Scale

For More Information


Aron K. Barbey is a Professor of Psychology, Neuroscience, and Bioengineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He directs the Center for Brain Plasticity; the Intelligence, Learning, and Plasticity Initiative; and the the Decision Neuroscience Laboratory at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology. He received a Ph.D. in Psychology from Emory University in 2007 and completed a research fellowship in Cognitive Neuroscience at the National Institutes of Health in 2011. Professor Barbey’s research investigates the neural foundations of human intelligence and decision making with particular emphasis on enhancing these functions through cognitive neuroscience, physical fitness, and nutritional intervention. He has won more than $25 million in private and federal research grants since joining the University of Illinois in 2011, receiving support from the NIH BRAIN Initiative, the research division of the U. S. Director of National Intelligence (IARPA), the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and Abbott Nutrition. He has received multiple academic achievement awards and serves on the editorial board of three journals: Intelligence, Thinking and Reasoning, and NeuroImage.


  • Ph.D., Psychology, Emory University

Academic Positions

  • Affiliate, Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology
  • Professor, Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology
  • Professor, Department of Bioengineering
  • Professor, Department of Psychology

Journal Editorships

  • Associate Editor, Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
  • Editorial Board, Intelligence
  • Editorial Board, NeuroImage
  • Editorial Board, Thinking & Reasoning

Research Interests

  • Our research investigates the principles of brain organization that underlie executive control, reasoning and decision making. Through a combination of human behavioral, computational modeling, functional neuroimaging (fMRI) and neuropsychological patient data, we seek to uncover the mechanisms that shape higher cognitive processes and to develop predictive models of brain function that link neural systems to specific patterns of inference and behavior. An important motivation for our work is the development of a theoretically sound foundation for research on the relationship between disturbances of brain function and their manifestation as disorders of thought and behavior in psychiatric illness and neurological disease.

Primary Research Area

  • Bioimaging at Multi-Scale

Selected Articles in Journals

  • Nikolaidis A, Barbey AK. Forthcoming. Network Dynamics Theory of Human Intelligence. In Jung R, and Vartanian O, editors. The Cambridge Handbook of the Neuroscience of Creativity: Cambridge University Press.
  • Nikolaidis A, Baniqued P, Kranz M, Newman M, Scavuzzo C, Paul EJ, Barbey AK, Kramer AF, Larsen R. In press. Multivariate associations of NAA and fluid intelligence. Cerebral Cortex.
  • Operskalski JT, Barbey AK. In Press. Methodological considerations in cognitive training research. Frontiers in Psychology.
  • Operskalski JT, Barbey AK. In Press. Risk literacy in medical decision making. Science.
  • Paul EJ, Larsen RJ, Nikolaidis A, Ward N, Hillman CH, Cohen NJ, Kramer AF, Barbey AK. In Press. Dissociable brain biomarkers of fluid intelligence. NeuroImage.
  • Ponsoda V, Martinez K, Pineda-Pardo JA, Abad FJ, Olea J, Roman FJ, Barbey AK, Colom R. In Press. Structural brain connectivity and cognitive ability differences: A multivariate distance matrix regression analysis. Human Brain Mapping.
  • Sloman SA, Barbey AK. In press. The basic assumptions of intuitive belief: Laws, determinism, and free will. In Macchi L, Bagassi M, and Viale R, editors. Human Rationality: Thinking Thanks to Constraints. Cambridge: MIT Press.
  • Watson P, Paul EJ, Cooke G, Ward N, Allen C, Hillman C, Cohen NJ, Kramer AF, Barbey AK. In Press. Underlying sources of cognitive-anatomical variation in multimodal cognitive testing and neuroimaging of a large sample. NeuroImage.
  • Zamroziewicz MK, Barbey AK. In Press. Nutritional neuroscience: Innovations for healthy brain aging. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience. (Tier 2).
  • Zamroziewicz MK, Paul EJ, Zwilling C, Johnson EJ, Kuchan MJ, Cohen NJ, Barbey AK. In Press. Parahippocampal Cortex Mediates the Relationship between Lutein and Crystallized Intelligence in Healthy, Older Adults. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience.
  • Zamroziewicz MK, Paul EJ, Zwilling C, Barbey AK. In Press. Inferior prefrontal cortex mediates the relationship between phosphatidylcholine and executive functions in healthy, older adults.
  • Barbey AK, Belli A, Logan A, Rubin R, Zamroziewicz, M, Operskalski, JT. 2015. Network topology and dynamics in traumatic brain injury. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences.
  • Lewis J, Krueger F, Solomon J, Barbey AK, Poore J, Grafman J, Wassermann E. 2015. Anhedonia in combat veterans with penetrating head injury. Brain Imaging and Behavior.
  • Operskalski JT, Paul EJ, Colom R, Barbey AK, Grafman J. 2015. Lesion mapping the four-factor structure of emotional intelligence. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.
  • Patterson R, Operskalski JT, Barbey AK. 2015. Motivated explanation. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.
  • Paul EJ, Smith JD, Valentin VV, Turner B, Barbey AK, Ashby FG. 2015. Neural networks underlying the metacognitive uncertainty response. Cortex.
  • Van Hoeck N, Watson PD, Barbey AK. 2015. Counterfactual reasoning. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.
  • Wolff P, Barbey AK. 2015. Causal reasoning with forces. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.
  • Zamroziewicz MK, Paul EJ, Rubin RD, Barbey AK. 2015. Anterior cingulate cortex mediates the relationship between O3PUFAs and executive functions in APOE e4 carriers. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience.
  • Barbey AK, Colom R, Paul EJ, Chau A, Solomon J, Grafman J. Lesion mapping of social problem solving.Brain. [Selected as “Editor’s Choice” in 2014]
  • Barbey AK, Colom R, Paul EJ, Forbes CE, Krueger F, Goldman D, Grafman J. Preservation of general intelligence following traumatic brain injury: Contributions of the met66 brain-derived neurotrophic factor. PLOS ONE. [PDF]
  • Khemlani S, Barbey AK, Johnson-Laird PN. Causal reasoning with mental models. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.
  • Barbey AK, Colom R, Grafman J. 2013. Neural mechanisms of discourse comprehension: A human lesion study. Brain.
  • Barbey AK, Colom R, Grafman J. 2013. Architecture of cognitive flexibility revealed by lesion mapping. NeuroImage.
  • Barbey AK, Colom R, Paul EJ, Grafman J. 2013. Architecture of fluid intelligence and working memory revealed by lesion mapping. Brain Structure and Function.
  • Bowman GL, Dodge H, Mattek N, Barbey AK, Silbert LC, Shinto L, Howieson D, Kaye J, Quinn J. 2013. Plasma omega 3 PUFA and white matter mediated executive decline in older adults. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience.
  • Forbes CE, Poore J, Krueger F, Barbey AK, Solomon J, Grafman J. 2013. The role of executive function and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex in the expression of neuroticism and conscientiousness. Social Neuroscience.
  • Hasadsri L, Wang BH, Lee JV, Erdman JW, Llano DA, Barbey AK, Wszalek T, Sharrock MF, Wang H. 2013. Omega-3 fatty acids as a putative treatment for traumatic brain injury. Journal of Neurotrauma.
  • Barbey AK, Colom R, Grafman J. 2012. Distributed neural system for emotional intelligence revealed by lesion mapping. Social, Cognitive, and Affective Neuroscience.
  • Barbey AK, Colom R, Grafman J. 2012. Dorsolateral prefrontal contributions to human intelligence. Neuropsychologia.
  • Barbey AK, Colom R, Solomon J, Krueger F, Forbes CE, Grafman J. 2012. An integrative architecture for general intelligence and executive function revealed by lesion mapping. Brain, 135: 1154-1164.
  • Barbey AK, Grafman J. 2012. The prefrontal cortex and goal-directed social behavior. In Decety J, Cacioppo J, editors.The Oxford Handbook of Social Neuroscience. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Barbey AK, Koenigs M, Grafman J. 2012. Dorsolateral prefrontal contributions to human working memory. Cortex.
  • Forbes CE, Cameron KA, Grafman J, Barbey AK, Solomon J, Ritter W, Ruchkin DS. 2012. Identifying temporal and causal contributions of neural processes underlying the Implicit Association Test. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 6: 320.
  • Forbes CE, Poore JC, Barbey AK, Krueger F, Solomon J, Lipsky RH, Hodgkinson CA, Goldman D, Grafman J. 2012. BDNF polymorphism Dependent OFC and DLPFC plasticity moderates implicit and explicit bias. Cerebral Cortex, 22: 2602-2609.
  • Hecht E, Patterson R, Barbey AK. 2012. What can other animals tell us about humansocial cognition? An evolutionary perspective on reflective and reflexive processing. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 6: 224.
  • Patterson R, Barbey AK. 2012. A cognitive neuroscience framework for causal reasoning. In Grafman J, Krueger F, editors, The Neural Representation of Belief Systems.
  • Patterson R, Rothstein J, Barbey AK. 2012. Reasoning, cognitive control, and moral intuition. Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience, 6: 114.