Daniel A. Butts, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Department of Biology, University of Maryland College Park
Professional Info: Google Scholar, PubMed
Office: Bioscience Research Building (BRB) 1118
Office Phone: (301) 405-9890
Lab: BRB 1207
Fax: (301) 314-9358
Email: dab@umd.edu



  • Computational Neuroscience (NACS 643)
  • Neurophysiology of Cells and Circuits (BSCI 339F)
  • Cellular Neurophysiology (BSCI 453)
  • Foundations of Neuroscience (BSCI 353)
  • Neural Coding (NACS 728Y/BISI 628W)


  • Ph.D. in Physics, UC Berkeley, 2000
  • B.A., Oberlin College, 1994


  • Yates JL, Coop S, Wu RJ, Butts DA, Rucci M, Mitchell JF (2021) Beyond Fixation: detailed characterization of neural selectivity in free-viewing primates. bioRxiv 2021.11.06.467566
  • Bartsch F, Cumming BG, Butts DA (2021) Model-based characterization of the selectivity of neurons in primary visual cortex. bioRxiv 2021.09.13.460153
  • Quinn KR, Seiller L, Butts DA, Nienborg H (2021) Task-selective feedback in visual cortex lacks spatial selectivity. Nature Communications 12: 4473. [Open access, Data and Code]
  • Whiteway MR, Averbeck B, Butts DA (2020) A latent variable approach to decoding neural population activity. bioRxiv: 896423. [Link]
  • Butts DA (2019) Data-driven approaches to understanding visual neuron activity. Annual Review of Vision Science 5: 451-77. [Link to journal, Preprint]
  • Whiteway MR, Butts DA (2019) The quest for interpretable models of neural population activity. Current Opinion in Neurobiology 58: 86-93. [PDF]
  • Whiteway MR, Socha K, Bonin V, Butts DA (2019) Characterizing the nonlinear structure of shared variability in cortical neuron populations using latent variable models. Neurons, Behavior, Data Analysis, and Theory [Article, PDF]
  • Shi Q, Gupta P, Boukhvalova A, Singer JH, Butts DA (2019) Functional characterization of retinal ganglion cells using tailored nonlinear modeling. Scientific Reports 9: 8713. [PDF, Code]
  • Henriksen S, Butts DA, Read JCA, Cumming BG (2018) Current models cannot account for V1's specialisation for binocular natural image statistics. bioRxiv: 497008. [Preprint]
  • Socha K, Whiteway MR, Butts DA, Bonin V (2018) Behavioral response to visual motion impacts population coding in the mouse visual thalamus. bioRvix.org. [Preprint]
  • Rourke OLC, Butts DA (2017) Cortical computations via transient attractors. PLoS One 12: e0188562. [Journal website]
  • Whiteway MR, Butts DA (2016) Revealing unobserved factors underlying cortical activity using a rectified latent variable model applied to neural population recordings. Journal of Neurophysiology 117: 919-36. [Journal website]
  • Cui Y, Wang YV, Park SSH, Demb JB*, Butts DA* (2016) Divisive suppression explains high-precision firing and contrast adaptation in retinal ganglion cells. eLife 5: e19460. [PDF]
  • McFarland JM, Cumming BG, Butts DA (2016) Variability and correlations in primary visual cortical neurons driven by fixational eye movements. Journal of Neuroscience 36: 6225-41. [Journal website]
  • Cui Y, Liu L, McFarland JM, Pack CC, Butts DA (2016) Inferring cortical variability from local field potentials. Journal of Neuroscience 36: 4121-4135. [Journal website]
  • McFarland JM, Bondy AG, Saunders R, Cumming BG*, Butts DA* (2015) Saccadic modulation of stimulus processing in primary visual cortex. Nature Communications 6: 8110. [Full text]
  • McFarland JM, Bondy AG, Cumming BG, Butts DA (2014) High-resolution eye tracking using V1 neuron activity. Nature Communications 5: 4605. [Online, Code]
  • Cui Y, Liu L, Khawaja FA, Pack CC, Butts DA (2013) Diverse suppressive influences in area MT and selectivity to complex motion features. Journal of Neuroscience 33: 16715-28. [PDF]
  • McFarland JM, Cui Y, Butts DA (2013) Inferring nonlinear neuronal computation based on physiologically plausible inputs. PLoS Computational Biology 9: e1003143. [PDF, Code]
  • Butts DA, Weng C, Jin J, Alonso JM, Paninski L (2011) Temporal precision in the visual pathway through the interplay of excitation and stimulus-driven suppression. Journal of Neuroscience 31: 92-5. [PDF]
  • Butts DA, Weng C, Jin JZ, Yeh CI, Lesica NA, Alonso JM, Stanley GB (2007) Temporal precision in the neural code and the time scales of natural vision. Nature 449: 92-5. [PDF, Sup1]
  • Butts DA, Kanold PO, Shatz CJ (2007) A burst-based “Hebbian” learning rule at retinogeniculate synapses links retinal waves to activity-dependent refinement. PLoS Biology 5: e61. [Full text]
  • Butts DA, Goldman MS (2006) Tuning Curves, Neuronal Variability, and Sensory Coding. PLoS Biology 4: e92. [Full text, Featured writeup]
  • Lesica NA, Jin JZ, Weng C, Yeh CI, Butts DA, Stanley GB, Alonso JM (2007) Adaptation to stimulus contrast and correlations in the early visual pathway during natural stimulation. Neuron 55: 1-13.
  • Lu HC, Butts DA, Kaeser PS, She WC, Janz R, Crair MC (2006) Role of efficient neurotransmitter release in barrel map development. Journal of Neuroscience 26: 2692-703.
  • Butts DA (2003) How much the information associated with a particular stimulus? Network: Computation in Neural Systems 14: 177-187. [PDF]
  • Butts DA (2002) Retinal Waves: Implications for developmental learning rules. The Neuroscientist 8: 243-253. [PDF]
  • Butts DA, Rokhsar DS (2001) The information content of spontaneous retinal waves. Journal of Neuroscience 21: 961-973. [PDF]
  • Butts DA, Feller MB, Shatz CJ, Rokhsar DS (1999) Retinal waves are governed by collective network properties. Journal of Neuroscience 19: 3580-93. [PDF]
  • Butts DA, Rokhsar DS (1999) Predicted signatures of rotating Bose-Einstein condensates. Nature 397: 327-9. [PDF, News&Views, Movie]
  • Feller MB, Butts DA, Aaron HL, Rokhsar DS, Shatz CJ (1997) Dynamic processes shape spatiotemporal properties of retinal waves. Neuron 19: 293-306. [PDF]
  • Butts DA, Rokhsar DS (1997) Trapped Fermi gases. Physical Review A 55: 4346-50. [PDF]
  • Warner RE et al. (U. Michigan); Butts D et al. (Oberlin); Kolata JJ et al. (Notre Dame); Galonsky A et al. (MSU) (1995) Elastic scattering of 10 MeV 6He from 12C, natNi, and 197Au. Physical Review C 51: 178. [PDF]