G. Sean Escola, MD, PHD

Profile Headshot


Academic Appointments

  • Assistant Professor of Psychiatry


  • Male

Credentials & Experience

Education & Training

  • PhD, 2009 Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons
  • MD, 2010 Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons
  • Residency: NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center


In the Escola lab we use computational models and theory to understand motor control and sequence generation. Experimental results from the mammalian motor system provide the primary constraints for our models. Thus, we actively collaborate with and gain insights from experimental colleagues including Rui Costa and Mark Churchland at Columbia and Bence Olveczky at Harvard. Current questions we are pursuing in the lab include: What learning rules are needed between cortex and subcortical systems to support the expression of many motor skills and modes of behavior? How and when does subcortical consolidation occur for highly practiced motor skills? Can networks that learn to control biomechanically realistic virtual bodies and limbs with realistic feedback inform our understanding of motor learning in the motor cortex? And what is the role of ongoing dopamine mediated plasticity in the basal ganglia and climbing fiber mediated plasticity in the cerebellum during motor learning and task performance?
See the lab website for details.

Research Interests

  • Cognitive/Systems Neuroscience
  • Computational Psychiatry
  • Computation and Theory
  • Motor Systems
  • Theoretical Neuroscience

Selected Publications

  • Laureline Logiaco, Larry Abbott, Sean Escola, “Thalamic control of cortical dynamic in a model of flexible motor sequencing”, Cell Reports, 2021

  • Laureline Logiaco, Sean Escola, “Thalamocortical motor circuit insights for more robust hierarchical control of complex sequences”, arXiv, 2020

  • James Murray, Sean Escola, “Remembrance of things practiced with fast and slow learning in cortical and subcortical pathways”, Nature Communication, 2020

  • Brian DePasquale, Christopher Cueva, Kanaka Rajan, Sean Escola, and Larry Abbott. "full-FORCE: A target-based method for training recurrent networks", PloS one, 2018.

  • James Murray, Sean Escola, “Learning multiple variable-speed sequences in striatum via cortical tutoring”, eLife, 2017