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Aaron Kucyi

Aaron Kucyi, PhD

Assistant Professor of Psychology
Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences


  • PhD, Institute of Medical Science & Collaborative Program in Neuroscience, University of Toronto, 2014
  • BSc Hons, Biology, York University, 2009

Curriculum Vitae:

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Research Interests:

  • Default mode network
  • Spontaneous thought
  • Mind wandering
  • Experience sampling
  • fMRI
  • Intracranial EEG
  • Mental health


Aaron Kucyi is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences and is a Core Faculty Member within the Applied Cognitive and Brain Sciences Program. He completed a Ph.D. at the University of Toronto followed by postdoctoral training at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School and Stanford University.

Kucyi directs the Dynamic Brain and Mind Lab, a cognitive and clinical neuroscience research program. The Lab has a scientific focus on the on the neuroscience of spontaneous thought and its interactions with attention and memory systems. Spontaneous thoughts, and related experiences such as mind wandering and rumination, occupy up to half of a person’s typical waking life and are fundamental to everyday cognitive function and mental health. The Lab’s major goals are to (1) Improve theoretical understanding of how spontaneous cognition arises from brain dynamics; (2) Develop novel tools to enable real-time, brain-based detection of spontaneous cognitive events; and (3) Facilitate the development of personalized neuromodulation tools that can promote healthy patterns of thinking.

Kucyi’s research involves multiple techniques in human neuroscience such as fMRI (including real-time fMRI), scalp EEG, intracranial EEG, pupillometry, and multimodal integration (including simultaneous EEG-fMRI). Behavioral paradigms include experience sampling and various assessments of mental health, attention and memory functions. Computational approaches draw extensively from machine learning/predictive modeling, signal processing, network science, and advances in personalized neuroimaging such as precision functional mapping.

Kucyi has authored over 60 journal articles and book chapters that have appeared in publications such as Journal of Neuroscience, Nature Communications, Nature Mental Health, and PNAS. This research has been supported by funding from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIH-NIMH), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), a Brain and Behavior Research Foundation (NARSAD) Young Investigator Grant, and an Antelo Devereux Award for Junior Faculty from Drexel University.

Selected Publications:

  • Kucyi, A., Kam, J.W.Y., Andrews-Hanna, J.R., Christoff, K., Whitfield-Gabrieli, S., 2023. Recent advances in the neuroscience of spontaneous and off-task thought: implications for mental health. Nature Mental Health 1:827-840.
  • Kucyi, A., Esterman, M., Capella, J., Green, A., Uchida, M., Biederman, J., Gabrieli, J.D.E., Valera, E.M., Whitfield-Gabrieli, S., 2021. “Prediction of stimulus-independent and task-unrelated thought from functional brain networks.” Nature Communications 12(1):1-17. 
  • Kucyi, A., Parvizi, J., 2020. “Pupillary dynamics link spontaneous and task-evoked activations recorded directly from human insula.” Journal of Neuroscience 40(32):6207-6218. 
  • Kucyi, A., Daitch, A., Raccah, O., Zhao, B., Zhang, C., Esterman, M., Zeineh, M., Halpern, C.H., Zhang, K., Zhang, J., Parvizi, J., 2020. “Electrophysiological dynamics of antagonistic brain networks reflect attentional fluctuations.” Nature Communications 11(1):325. 
  • Kucyi, A., Schrouff, J., Bickel, S., Foster, B.L., Shine, J.M., Parvizi, J., 2018. “Intracranial electrophysiology reveals reproducible intrinsic functional connectivity within human brain networks.” Journal of Neuroscience 38(17):4230-4242. 
  • Kucyi, A., Tambini, A., Sadaghiani, S., Keilholz, S.D., Cohen, J.R., 2018. “Spontaneous cognitive processes and the behavioral validation of time-varying brain connectivity.” Network Neuroscience 2(4):397-417. 
  • Kucyi, A., 2018. “Just a thought: How mind-wandering is represented in dynamic brain connectivity.” Neuroimage 180:505-514. 
  • Kucyi, A., Hove, M.J., Esterman, M., Hutchison, R.M., Valera, E.M., 2017. “Dynamic Brain Network Correlates of Spontaneous Fluctuations in Attention.” Cerebral Cortex 27(3):1831-1840. 
  • Kucyi, A., Esterman, M., Riley, C.S., Valera, E.M., 2016. “Spontaneous default network activity reflects behavioral variability independent of mind-wandering.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 113(48):13899-13904. 
  • Kucyi, A., Davis, K.D., 2014. “Dynamic functional connectivity of the default mode network tracks daydreaming.” NeuroImage 100:471-80. 
  • Kucyi, A., Salomons, T.V., Davis, K.D, 2013. “Mind wandering away from pain dynamically engages antinociceptive and default mode brain networks.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 110(46):18692-7.