Aron Barbey


  • Title: Associate Professor
  • Group: Intelligence, Learning, and Plasticity
  • Status: Beckman Full-time Faculty
  • Home: Psychology


  • 2251 Beckman Institute
  • 405 North Mathews Avenue
  • Urbana, Illinois 61801


Aron K. Barbey is director of the Decision Neuroscience Laboratory at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois. 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. He is an associate professor in the Departments of Psychology, Neuroscience, and Bioengineering, and is affiliated with the Beckman Institute, the Carl Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, the Center for Nutrition, Learning, and Memory, and the Division of Nutritional Sciences. Dr. Barbey has led several of the largest and most comprehensive human lesion studies of high-level cognitive functions. He has received multiple early career academic achievement awards and won more than $10 million in private and federal research grants as PI since joining the University of Illinois in 2011. Dr. Barbey serves on the editorial board of multiple journals, including Neuroimage, Intelligence, Thinking & Reasoning, and Trends in Neuroscience and Education.


Aron Barbey's 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 try 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. A central aim of our current research is to develop cognitive neuroscience directed interventions to improve higher cognitive functions, investigating the beneficial effects of cognitive, fitness, and nutritional interventions on executive control, reasoning, and decision making.


  • 2015
    • Zamroziewicz, M. K.; Paul, E. J.; Rubin, R. D.; Barbey, A. K., Anterior Cingulate Cortex Mediates the Relationship between O3PUFAS and Executive Functions in APOE e4 Carriers. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience 2015, 7, 87.

    • Wolff, P.; Barbey, A. K., Causal Reasoning with Forces. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 2015, 9, DOI:ARTN 1 DOI:10.3389/Fnhum.2015.00001.

    • Lewis, J. D.; Krueger, F.; Raymont, V.; Solomon, J.; Knutson, K. M.; Barbey, A. K.; Poore, J. C.; Wassermann, E. M.; Grafman, J., Anhedonia in Combat Veterans with Penetrating Head Injury. Brain Imaging and Behavior 2015, DOI:10.1007/s11682-015-9414-4.

  • 2014
    • Barbey, A. K.; Colom, R.; Paul, E. J.; Grafman, J., Architecture of Fluid Intelligence and Working Memory Revealed by Lesion Mapping. Brain Structure & Function 2014, 219, (2), 485-494, DOI:10.1007/s00429-013-0512-z.

    • Barbey, A. K.; Colom, R.; Grafman, J., Neural Mechanisms of Discourse Comprehension: A Human Lesion Study. Brain 2014, 137, 277-287, DOI:10.1093/Brain/Awt312.

    • Barbey, A. K.; Colom, R.; Grafman, J., Distributed Neural System for Emotional Intelligence Revealed by Lesion Mapping. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience 2014, 9, (3), 265-272, DOI:10.1093/Scan/Nss124.

    • Barbey, A. K., Colom, R., Paul, E. J., Chau, A., Solomon, J., Grafman, J.H. In press. Lesion mapping of social problem solving. Brain. 

    • Barbey, A. K., Colom, R., Paul, E. J., Forbes, C., Krueger, F., Goldman, D., Grafman, J. (2014). Preservation of general intelligence following traumatic brain injury: Contributions of the met66 brain-derived neurotrophic factor. Plos One.

    • Forbes, C. P., J., Krueger, F., Barbey, A. K., Solomon, J., Grafman, J. (2014). The role of executive function and the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex in the expression of neuroticism and conscientiousness. Social Neuroscience, 9, 139-151.

    • Khemlani, S., Barbey, A. K., Johnson-Laird, P. N. (2014). Causal reasoning: Mental computations and brain mechanisms. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

    • Wolff, P., Barbey, A. K. (2014). Composing causal relations. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

  • 2013
    • Barbey, A. K., Colom, R., Grafman, J. (2013). Architecture of cognitive flexibility revealed by lesion mapping. NeuroImage, 82, 547-554.

    • Barbey, A. K., Colom, R., Paul, E. J., Grafman, J. (2013). Architecture of fluid intelligence and working memory revealed by lesion mapping. Brain Structure and Function, 10.1007/s00429-013-0512-z.

    • Barbey, A. K., Colom, R., Grafman, J. (2013). Neural mechanisms of discourse comprehension: A human lesion study. Brain, 137, 277-287.

    • Bowman, G. L., Dodge, H., Mattek, N., Barbey, A.K., Silbert, L. C., 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, 5, 92.

    • Hasadsri, L., Wang, B. H., Lee, J. V., Erdman, J. W., Llano, D. A., Barbey, A. K., Wszalek, T., Sharrock, M. F., Wang, H. (2013). Omega-3 Fatty Acids for Treatment of Traumatic Brain Injury. Journal of Neurotrauma, 30, 897-906.

  • 2012
    • Barbey, A. K., Colom, R., Grafman, J. (2012). Distributed neural system for emotional intelligence revealed by lesion mapping. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 9, 265-272.

    • Barbey, A. K., Colom, R., Grafman, J. (2012). Dorsolateral prefrontal contributions to human intelligence. Neuropsychologia, 51, 1361-1369.

    • Barbey, A. K., Colom, R., Solomon, J., Krueger, F., Forbes, C., Grafman, J. (2012). An integrative architecture for general intelligence and executive function revealed by lesion mapping. Brain, 135, 1154-1164.

    • Barbey, A. K., Koenigs, M., Grafman, J. (2012). Dorsolateral prefrontal contributions to human working memory. Cortex, 49, 1195-1205.

    • Hecht, E. E., Patterson, R., Barbey, A. K. (2012). What can other animals tell us about human social cognition? An evolutionary perspective on reflective and reflexive processing. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 6, 224.

    • Patterson, R., Rothstein, J., Barbey, A. K. (2012). Reasoning, cognitive control, and moral intuition. Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience, 6, 114.

  • 2011
    • Barbey, A. K., Grafman, J. (2011). An integrative cognitive neuroscience theory for social reasoning and moral judgment. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science, 2, 55-67.

    • Barbey, A. K., Koenigs, M., Grafman, J. (2011). Orbitofrontal contributions to human working memory. Cerebral Cortex, 21, 789-795.

    • Barbey, A. K., Patterson, R. (2011). Architecture of explanatory inference in the human prefrontal cortex. Frontiers in Psychology, 2, 162.

    • Forbes, C. E., Poore, J. C., Barbey, A. K., Krueger, F., Solomon, J., Lipsky, R. H., Hodgkinson, C. A., Goldman, D., Grafman, J.  (2011). BDNF Polymorphism-Dependent OFC and DLPFC Plasticity Differentially Moderates Implicit and Explicit Bias. Cerebral Cortex, 22, 2602-2609.

    • Koenigs, M., Acheson, D. J., Barbey, A. K., Solomon, J., Postle, B. R., Grafman, J. (2011). Areas of left perisylvian cortex mediate auditory-verbal short-term memory. Neuropsychologia, 49, 3612-3619.

  • 2010
    • Wolff, P., Barbey, A. K., Hausknecht, M. (2010). For want of a nail: How absences cause events. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 139, 191-221.

  • 2009
    • Barbey, A. K., Krueger, F., Grafman, J. (2009). An evolutionarily adaptive neural architecture for social reasoning. Trends in Neurosciences, 32, 603-610.

    • Barbey, A. K., Krueger, F., Grafman, J. (2009). Structured event complexes in the medial prefrontal cortex support counterfactual representations for future planning. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, 364, 1291-1300.

    • Kapogiannis, D., Barbey, A. K., Su, M., Krueger, F., Grafman, J. (2009). Neuroanatomical variability of religiosity. PLoS One, 4, e7180.

    • Kapogiannis, D., Barbey, A. K., Su, M., Zamboni, G., Krueger, F., Grafman, J. (2009). Cognitive and neural foundations of religious belief. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 106, 4876-4881.

    • Koenigs, M., Barbey, A. K., Postle, B. R., Grafman, J. (2009). Superior parietal cortex is critical for the manipulation of information in working memory. Journal of Neuroscience, 29, 14980-14986.

    • Krueger, F., Barbey, A. K., Grafman, J. (2009). The medial prefrontal cortex mediates social event knowledge. Trends in Cognitive Science, 13, 103-109.

    • Krueger, F., Barbey, A. K., McCabe, K., Strenziok, M., Zamboni, G., Solomon, J., Raymont, V., Grafman, J. (2009). The neural bases of key competencies of emotional intelligence. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 106, 22486-22491.

    • Krueger, F., Spampinato, M. V., Barbey, A. K., Huey, E. D., Morland, T., Grafman, J. (2009). The frontopolar cortex mediates event knowledge complexity: a parametric functional MRI study. Neuroreport, 20, 1093-1097.

    • Sloman, S., Barbey, A. K., Hotaling, J. M. (2009). A causal model theory of the meaning of cause, enable, and prevent. Cognitive Science, 33, 21-50.

  • 2007
    • Barbey, A. K., Sloman, S. A. (2007). Base-rate respect: From statistical formats to cognitive structures. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 30, 255-297.

    • Barbey, A. K., Sloman, S. A. (2007). Base-rate respect: From ecological rationality to dual processes. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 30, 241-254.

  • 2005
    • Barsalou, L. W., Barbey, A. K., Simmons, W. K., Santos, A. (2005). Embodiment in religious knowledge. Journal of Cognition and Culture, 5, 14-57.

  • 2003
    • Barsalou, L. W., Simmons, W. K., Barbey, A. K., Wilson, C. D. (2003). Grounding conceptual knowledge in modality-specific systems. Trends in Cognitive Science, 7, 84-91.


The Communications Office maintains the information included in Beckman Institute's online directory listings. In order to update your directory listing, please submit the following information to

  • a short bio including information on your educational background and your field
  • any honors and awards you may have received
  • a description of your research (approximately 200-400 words)
  • a list of recent representative publications
  • a photo of yourself (you can submit one or we can take one for you)