Donald Hood

Donald Hood

Ph.D., Brown University, 1970

General Area of Research

Physiological and psychophysical studies of human visual perception

Current Research

Tests of explanations/models of normal and abnormal retinal and optic nerve activity. 


Our laboratory is interested in the physiological bases of both normal and abnormal visual processing. Using both behavioral (psychophysical) and electrophysiological techniques, we study the vision of both normal individuals and patients with diseases of the retina or ganglion cell/optic nerve.

We record small (nanovolt range) electrical signals from the human eye (retina) and brain (visual areas of cortex). Using state-of-the-art technology, we can obtain these small responses from local regions of the retina and cortex. These techniques allow us to study spatially localized activity in the eye and the brain. 

With these techniques, we can test models of normal and abnormal vision. For example, we are currently testing a model that relates the activity in the human visual cortex (V1) to recordings from single cells of animals reported by others. In addition, we are testing explanations for the effects of glaucoma and multiple sclerosis on retinal ganglion cell and optic nerve activity. 

Biographical Sketch

Don Hood, the James F. Bender Professor of Psychology and Professor of Ophthalmic Science (in Ophthalmology), has been a member of the Columbia faculty since 1969. He holds a B.A. from Harpur College of the State University of New York, M.Sc. and Ph.D. (1970) degrees from Brown University and an honorary degree from Smith College (2000). From 1982 to 1987, he served as Vice President for the Arts and Sciences at Columbia University. He is an elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, as well as the Society of Experimental Psychologists and the Optical Society of America. He served on the Board of Trustees of Smith College from 1989 to 1999 (Vice Chair from 1991-1999), and the Board of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology from 2004-2009. Currently, he is on the Board of Trustees of Brown University (since 2002, Secretary since 2008), of the ARVO Foundation for Vision Research (since 2009, Treasurer) and of The Harry Guggenheim Foundations (since 1996).

He also serves on several editorial boards: IOVS (since 1992), Journal of Vision (since 2000), Documenta Ophthalmologica (since 2004), and Translational Vision Science & Technology (since 2011); he previously served on the board of Vision Research (2004 to 2013).

Don Hood's research deals with the behavior, physiology and anatomy of the human visual system. While some of his over 250 publications deal with issues of the basic neuroscience of vision, most of his work over the last 25 years has concerned research on diseases of the retina and optic nerve. He has had continuous grant support from NIH/NEI for over 40 years.

He teaches undergraduate courses on brain and behavior and advanced course on visual science. At Columbia University, he has been awarded the Mark van Doren Award for Outstanding Teaching in the College (1993), the Great Teacher Award (Society of Columbia Gradates, 2004), and the Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching (2007).

Courses Taught

Selected Publications

The multifocal visual evoked potential and cone-isolating stimuli: implications for L- to M-cone ratios and normalization.

Hood DC
Yu AL
Zhang X
Albrecht J
Jägle H
Sharpe LT

Multifocal VEP and ganglion cell damage: applications and limitations for the study of glaucoma.

Hood DC
Greenstein VC.