John Michael Pearson


Assistant Professor of Biostatistics & Bioinformatics

My research focuses on the application of machine learning methods to the analysis of brain data and behavior. I have a special interest in the neurobiology of reward and decision-making, particularly issues surrounding foraging, impulsivity, and self-control. More generally, I am interested in computational principles underlying brain organization at the mesoscale, and work in my lab studies phenomena that range from complex social behaviors to coding principles of the retina.

Appointments and Affiliations

  • Assistant Professor of Biostatistics & Bioinformatics
  • Assistant Research Professor in Neurobiology
  • Member of the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience

Contact Information

  • Office Location: Levine Science Research Center, B255, Durham, NC 27710
  • Office Phone: (919) 613-8338
  • Email Address:
  • Websites:


  • Ph.D. Princeton University, 2004
  • B.S. University of Kentucky, Lexington, 1999

Awards, Honors, and Distinctions

  • Gordon G. Hammes Faculty Teaching Award. Duke University School of Medicine. 2020

Courses Taught

  • EGR 491: Projects in Engineering
  • NEUROBIO 393: Research Independent Study
  • NEUROBIO 735: Quantitative Approaches in Neurobiology
  • NEUROBIO 793: Research in Neurobiology
  • NEUROSCI 493: Research Independent Study 1
  • NEUROSCI 494: Research Independent Study 2
  • NEUROSCI 495: Research Independent Study 3
  • NEUROSCI 755: Interdisciplinary Program in Cognitive Neuroscience (IPCN) Independent Research Rotation
  • PSY 755: Research Practicum

In the News

Representative Publications

  • Jun, NY; Field, GD; Pearson, J, Scene statistics and noise determine the relative arrangement of receptive field mosaics., Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, vol 118 no. 39 (2021) [10.1073/pnas.2105115118] [abs].
  • Goffinet, J; Mooney, R; Pearson, J; Brudner, S, Data from: Low-dimensional learned feature spaces quantify individual and group differences in vocal repertoires (2021) [10.7924/r4gq6zn8w] [abs].
  • Goffinet, J; Brudner, S; Mooney, R; Pearson, J, Low-dimensional learned feature spaces quantify individual and group differences in vocal repertoires., Elife, vol 10 (2021) [10.7554/eLife.67855] [abs].
  • Roy, S; Jun, NY; Davis, EL; Pearson, J; Field, GD, Inter-mosaic coordination of retinal receptive fields., Nature, vol 592 no. 7854 (2021), pp. 409-413 [10.1038/s41586-021-03317-5] [abs].
  • Jun, NY; Field, G; Pearson, J, The optimal spatial arrangement of ON and OFF receptive fields (2021) [10.1101/2021.03.10.434612] [abs].