John Williamson, Ph.D.
Neuroscience has always fascinated Dr. Williamson. As an undergraduate, he volunteered in two psychology research laboratories, one animal neuroscience, and one human psychology. These experiences lead him to pursue education in neuropsychology, where he could blend basic and applied science to understand brain and behavior relationships. At first,he was quite focused on healthy people, but then he completed an internship at The University of Chicago in their psychiatry department, and neurological underpinnings of emotional disorders strongly sparked his interest. The idea that emotional and cognitive dispositions, could change dramatically with neurological injury (e.g., in the context of frontal lobe injury from traumatic brain injury) was intriguing.
Since then, Dr. Williamson has worked to both understand mechanism of brain dysfunction in disorders such as PTSD and cerebrovascular disease, and to develop applied solutions to the problems that most impact quality of life in individuals that struggle with these issues.
Professional Society Affiliations
International Neuropsychological Society
Florida Neurological Society
Awards and Recognitions
Phi Beta Kappa
Clinically, Dr. Williamson focuses on adult populations that have questions of neurological contributions to cognitive impairment. This includes patients with cerebrovascular disease (e.g., stroke) and suspected vascular cognitive impairment, traumatic brain injury, and neurodegenerative diseases (e.g., Alzheimer’s disease).
Dr. Williamson is interested in the role of central and peripheral autonomic nervous system interactions in modifying or regulating brain states and behavioral output. He has current funding in NIH funding to understand the role of cardiac output modification in changing cognitive outcomes and brain health in patients with heart failure. He also has VA funding to understand the mechanistic contribution of white matter injuries in key central autonomic inputs from traumatic brain injury and manifestation of symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder.
Dr. Williamson has a leadership role in the development of “electroceutical” technologies to address autonomic interface in modifying emotional state, cognition and appetitive behaviors. This includes non-invasive nerve stimulation (e.g., transcutaneous vagal nerve stimulation) applications to enhance learning and to affect autonomic and emotional state changes in patients with emotional dysregulation.
Our laboratory is multi-disciplinary and includes collaborations with cardiology, biomedical engineering, behavioral neurology, neuroscience, and neuropsychology.
Dr. Williamson’s laboratory is involved in training student researchers including undergraduate and graduate students, post-bac research assistants, and post-doctoral fellows. They train students in cognitive, autonomic, and neuroimaging tools as well as research design and data interpretation. Dr. Williamson is proud of the success of the students who have gone through training in his lab, many of whom have gone on to medical school, graduate programs, practice, and faculty positions across the country.
He is also involved in the training of clinical neuropsychologists through advanced clinical practicum opportunities focused on clinical training in stroke and adult neurological populations. In addition to his work at the University of Florida, he is involved in international training of clinical neuropsychologists through his roles in continuing education activities in professional organizations.
In general, he is interested in training research and clinical behavioral neuroscientists.
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA, 2004
University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, 2004
University of Illinois at Chicago, Clinical Neuropsychology, 2004-2006
University of Illinois at Chicago, autonomic neuroscience (NIA funded,)/2006-2008
Williamson JB, Porges EC, Lamb DG, Porges SW. Maladaptive autonomic regulation in PTSD accelerates physiological aging. Front Psychol. 2015;5:1571.; 17
Williamson JB, Haque S, Burtis B, Harciarek M, Lamb D, Zilli E, Heilman KM. The influence of stimulus proximity on judgments of spatial relationships in patients with chronic unilateral right or left hemisphere stroke. J Clin Exp Neuropsychol. 2014;36(8):787-793
Burtis DB, Heilman KM, Mo J, Wang C, Lewis GF, Davilla MI, Ding M, Porges SW, Williamson JB. The effects of constrained left versus right monocular viewing on the autonomic nervous system. Biol Psychol. 2014;100:79-85.;
Williamson JB, Heilman KM, Porges EC, Lamb DG, Porges SW. A possible mechanism for PTSD symptoms in patients with traumatic brain injury: central autonomic network disruption. Front Neuroeng. 2013;6:13