Tony Wilson, Ph.D.

Associate ProfessorTony Wilson, Ph.D.

222 Clarkson Doctor's Building South
Omaha, NE 68198-8422

Phone: 402-552-6431
Email: Tony Wilson


Aging and health factors that can accelerate aging (e.g., diabetes, severe infections, drug and alcohol abuse); attention; working memory; motor control; typical development; brain oscillations; temporal dynamics; pharmaco-MEG; dynamic functional connectivity; HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND); transcranial electrical stimulation (tES)

In the News
Professional Summary
Research Interests
Representative Publications
Visit Dr. Wilson's laboratory

In the news: 

UNMC Today, March 31, 2016
Researchers probe aging and the HIV-infected brain

UNMC Today, January 18, 2016
New Investigator: Tony Wilson, Ph.D.

UNMC Today, December 14, 2015
Tony Wilson receives UNMC New Investigator Award

UNMC Today, August 27, 2015
Mapping the developing brain: Clinical Research Series

University of Nebraska, August 12, 2014
Graduate Student Elizabeth Heinrichs-Graham earns 2014-15 Presidential Graduate Fellow honor

UNMC Today, March 6, 2014
A Pioneer in Brain Imaging - Tony Wilson, PhD receives the Joseph P. Gilmore New Investigator award

More news

Research Interests:

Dr. Wilson’s laboratory utilizes advanced functional and structural neuroimaging to understand how electrical activity in large-scale human brain networks gives rise to normal and aberrant cognitive processes. Specifically, the team uses magnetoencephalography (MEG) to measure the dynamics of brain function in real time, and combines high-resolution structural MRI with computational neuroanatomical techniques to quantify the thickness of cortical gray matter in healthy children and adults, as well as those with neurological and/or psychiatric disorders. Beyond MEG and structural MRI, the team also uses functional MRI, diffusion-weighted imaging, and noninvasive brain stimulation methods to address emerging questions in basic and translational neuroscience.

Dr. Wilson’s laboratory is currently funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the American Heart Association (AHA), and private foundations.

Current projects include:

- A longitudinal study of healthy and pathological aging in healthy adults and those with cognitive impairments subsequent to HIV-infection. In this work, the team is studying how the brain networks serving attention and working memory change as a function of aging, and whether early signs of impairment can be discerned in the function or structure of the brain. The team is also evaluating sex differences among these variables, and how one’s molecular age is reflected in the structure and function of their brain.

- The developmental trajectory of healthy brain development in 9-14 year-old children. This study evaluates how the cortex and white matter pathways maturate as children grow into adolescents, and examines how specific genetic markers impact this maturation. A particular focus of the study is on neuronal dynamics and how connectivity in specific brain networks changes during the transition from childhood to adolescence.

- An investigation of how type 1 diabetes (T1D) affects cognitive and neural function across the life span. The main goals of this project are to quantify the impact of glycemic dysregulation and disease duration on brain and cognitive health in patients with T1D who are otherwise healthy (i.e., free of heart disease and obesity).  

- A study identifying the underlying mechanisms of an emerging type of noninvasive electrical brain stimulation. This work currently focuses on healthy young adults and aims to determine the neurophysiological bases of enhanced and degraded cognitive function following stimulation of specific brain areas.

- A translational study of how chronic heart failure (CHF) and dyspnea (breathlessness) affects brain function and cerebral blood flow in older adults (with and without CHF). The underlying molecular mechanisms of these alterations are then probed in rats with CHF (with Dr. Harold Schultz).

- The impact of chronic marijuana use on the aging process. This study identifies whether heavy marijuana use accelerates cognitive and neural aging using MEG, structural/functional MRI, and neurobehavioral methods.    

The Wilson laboratory is highly collaborative and involved in several ongoing studies that are based in other laboratories at UNMC, University of Nebraska-Omaha, Creighton University, Boys Town National Research Hospital and beyond.  

Selected Publications (since 2014):                                       *= Mentored Student/Fellow

  1. Wilson TW, McDermott TJ, Mills MS, Coolidge NM, Heinrichs-Graham E. (in press). tDCS modulates visual gamma oscillations and basal alpha activity in occipital cortices: Evidence from MEG. Cerebral Cortex.
  2. *Heinrichs-Graham E, Santamaria PM, Gendelman HE, Wilson TW. (in press). The cortical signature of symptom laterality in Parkinson’s disease. Neuroimage: Clinical.
  3. *Heinrichs-Graham E, Kurz MJ, Gehringer JE, Wilson TW.  (in press). The functional role of post-movement beta oscillations in motor termination. Brain Structure & Function.
  4. Khanna MM, Badura-Brack AS, McDermott TJ, Embury CM, Wiesman AI, Shepherd A, Ryan TJ, Heinrichs-Graham E, Wilson TW.  (in press). Veterans with PTSD exhibit altered emotional processing and attentional control during an emotional Stroop task. Psychological Medicine.
  5. *Wiesman AI, Heinrichs-Graham E, Coolidge N, Gehringer J, Kurz MJ, Wilson TW. (2017) Oscillatory dynamics and functional connectivity during gating of primary somatosensory responses. Journal of Physiology, 2017 Feb 15;595(4):1365-1375. PMID: 27779747 PMC: In Process
  6. Wilson TW, Proskovec AL, Heinrichs-Graham E, O’Neill J, Robertson KR, Fox HS, Swindells S. (2017). Aberrant neuronal dynamics during working memory operations in the aging HIV-infected brain. Scientific Reports, 2017 Feb 3;7:41568.  PMCID: PMC5290733
  7. Wilson TW. (2017). Does exposure to persistent maternal depression alter the developing brain’s empathetic circuitry. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 56: 8-9.  PMID: 27993233. PMC: In Process
  8. *Heinrichs-Graham E, McDermott TJ, Mills MS, Coolidge NM, Wilson TW. (2016). Transcranial direct-current stimulation modulates offline visual oscillatory activity: A magnetoencephalography study. Cortex, 2016 Dec 7;88:19-31. PMID: 28042984 PMC: In Process
  9. *McDermott TJ, Badura-Brack AS, Becker KM, Ryan TJ, Bar-Haim Y, Pine DS, Khanna MM, Heinrichs-Graham E,  Wilson TW. (2016). Attention training improves aberrant neural dynamics during working memory processing in veterans with PTSD. Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience, 16:1140-1149.  PMC5154910
  10. Kurz MJ, Proskovec AL, Gehringer JE, Becker KM, Arpin DJ, Heinrichs-Graham E, Wilson TW. (2016). Developmental trajectory of beta cortical oscillatory activity during a knee motor task. Brain Topography, 29: 824-833. PMID: 27277428
  11. *Wiesman AI, Heinrichs-Graham E, McDermott TJ, Santamaria P, Gendelman HE, Wilson TW. (2016). Quiet connections: Reduced frontotemporal connectivity in nondemented Parkinson's disease during working memory encoding. Human Brain Mapping, 37:3224-3235. PMC4980162
  12. Wilson TW, Heinrichs-Graham E, Proskovec AL, McDermott TJ. (2016). Neuroimaging with magnetoencephalography: A dynamic view of brain pathophysiology. Translational Research, 175: 17-36. PMC: 4959997
  13. *Heinrichs-Graham E, Wilson TW. (2016). Is an absolute level of cortical beta suppression required for proper movement? Magnetoencephalographic evidence from healthy aging. Neuroimage, 134:514-521. PMC: 4912897
  14. *Heinrichs-Graham E, Arpin DJ, Wilson TW. (2016). Cue-related temporal factors modulate movement-related beta oscillations in the human motor circuit. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 28:1039-1051. PMC: 4887290
  15. *Proskovec AL, Heinrichs-Graham E, Wilson TW. (2016). Aging modulates the oscillatory dynamics underlying successful working memory encoding and maintenance. Human Brain Mapping, 37:2348-2361. PMC: 4867257
  16. *McDermott TJ, Badura-Brack AS, Becker KM, Ryan TJ, Khanna MM, Heinrichs-Graham E,  Wilson TW. (2016). Male veterans with PTSD exhibit aberrant neural dynamics during working memory encoding: A MEG study. Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, 41:251-260.  PMC4915934
  17. *Heinrichs-Graham E, Wilson TW. (2015). Coding complexity in the human motor circuit. Human Brain Mapping, 36:5155-5167.  PMC: 4715608
  18. Khanna MM, Badura-Brack AS, McDermott TJ, Shepherd A, Heinrichs-Graham E, Pine DS, Bar-Haim Y, Wilson TW. (2015). Attention training normalises combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder effects on emotional Stroop performance using lexically matched word lists. Cognition & Emotion, 2015 Aug 26: 1-8. PMC5177534
  19. Badura-Brack AS, Becker KM, McDermott TJ, Ryan TJ, Becker MM, Hearley AR, Heinrichs-Graham E, Wilson TW. (2015). Decreased somatosensory activity to non-threatening touch in combat veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder. Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, 233:194-200. PMID: 26184460
  20. Wilson TW, Heinrichs-Graham E, Becker KM, Aloi J, Robertson KR, Sandkovsky U, White ML, O’Neill J, Knott NL, Fox HS, Swindells S. (2015) Multimodal neuroimaging evidence of alterations in cortical structure and function in HIV-infected older adults. Human Brain Mapping, 36:897-910.PMC4491915
  21. Kurz MJ, Becker KM, Heinrichs-Graham E, Wilson TW. (2015). Children with cerebral palsy have uncharacteristic somatosensory cortical oscillations after mechanoreceptor stimulation. Neuroscience, 305:67-75. PMC4558219
  22. *Heinrichs-Graham E, Wilson TW. (2015). Spatiotemporal oscillatory dynamics of the encoding and maintenance phases of a visual working memory task. Cortex, 69:121-130. PMC4522359
  23. Kurz MJ, Heinrichs-Graham E, Becker KM, Wilson TW. (2015). The magnitude of somatosensory cortical activity is related to the mobility and strength impairments seen in children with cerebral palsy. Journal of Neurophysiology, 113:3143-3150. PMC4432676
  24. *Heinrichs-Graham E, Wilson TW, Santamaria PM, Heithoff SK, Torres-Russotto D, Hutter-Saunders JA, Estes KA, Meza JL, Mosley RL, Gendelman HE. (2014). Neuromagnetic evidence of abnormal movement-related beta desynchronization in Parkinson's disease. Cerebral Cortex, 24: 2669-2678.  PMC4153806 = Corresponding Author   
  25. Wilson TW, Heinrichs-Graham E, & Becker KM. (2014). Circadian modulation of motor-related beta oscillatory responses. NeuroImage, 102:531-539. PMC4252760
  26. *Heinrichs-Graham E, Kurz MJ, Becker KM, Santamaria PM, Gendelman HE, & Wilson TW. (2014). Hyper-synchrony despite pathologically-reduced beta oscillations in patients with Parkinson's disease: A pharmaco-magnetoencephalography study. Journal of Neurophysiology, 112:1739-1747. PMC4157173
  27. Kurz MJ, Becker KM, Heinrichs-Graham E, & Wilson TW. (2014). Neurophysiological abnormalities in the sensorimotor cortices during the motor planning and movement execution stages of children with cerebral palsy. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 56:1072-1077. PMC4194152
  28. Kurz MJ, Heinrichs-Graham E, Arpin DJ, Becker KM, Wilson TW. (2014). Aberrant synchrony in the somatosensory cortices predicts motor performance errors in children with cerebral palsy. Journal of Neurophysiology, 111(3):573-579. PMC3921401
  29. *Heinrichs-Graham E, Franzen JD, Knott NL, White ML, Wetzel MW, & Wilson TW. (2014). Pharmaco-MEG evidence for attention related hyper-connectivity between auditory and prefrontal cortices in ADHD. Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, 221:240-245. PMC4010384
  30. Kurz MJ, Wilson TW, Arpin DJ. (2014). An fNIRS exploratory investigation of the cortical activity during gait in children with spastic diplegic cerebral palsy. Brain & Development, 36:870-877. PMC4122656
  31. Wilson TW, Kurz MJ, & Arpin DJ. (2014). Functional specialization within the supplementary motor area: A fNIRS study of bimanual coordination. NeuroImage, 85:445-450. PMC3838451

Additional publications in PubMed.

Visit Dr. Wilson's laboratory

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