Peter Sterling, Ph.D

faculty photo
Professor of Neuroscience
Department: Neuroscience

Contact information
Finca Tangara, Palmira Abajo, Chiriqui Province, Panamá (November-April)

24 High Point Drive (May-October)
Amherst, MA 00102

Cornell University, 1961.
New York University School of Medicine, 1962.
Ph.D. (Biology)
Western Reserve University , 1966.
Permanent link
> Perelman School of Medicine   > Faculty   > Details

Description of Research Expertise

My broad goal has been to learn how the brain is designed – to understand its functional architecture. My research has spanned the full range of scales, from nanoscopic (synaptic vesicles), to microscopic (neural circuits), to macroscopic (regional neuroanatomy and behavior). My laboratory focused on retinal structure and function (Sterling, 2013), but my theoretical interests extended to basic issues of physiological regulation and behavior, leading to the concept of allostasis (Sterling, 2004, 2011). The two lines are now integrated in a book written with Prof. Simon Laughlin, Principles of Neural Design (2015). Investigations continue in a Massachusetts garden and on a farm in western Panamá.

Selected Publications

Sterling P, Laughlin, Simon. : Principles of Neural Design. MIT Press. May 2015.

Sterling P: Homeostasis vs. Allostasis: Implications for brain function and mental disorders. JAMA Psychiatry 71(10): 1192-3, 2014.

Sterling P: Some Principles of Retinal Design: The Proctor Lecture. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 54(3): 2267-2275, 2013.

Perge J, Niven J, Mugnaini E, Balasubramanian V, Sterling P: Why do axons vary in caliber? J. Neurosci. 32(2): 626-38, 2012.

Sterling P: Allostasis: A model of predictive regulation. Physiol. Behav. 106(1): 5-15, 2012.

Tkačik G, Garrigan P, Ratliff C, Milčinski G, Klein JM, Seyfarth LH, Sterling P, Brainard DH, Balasubramanian V: Natural images from the birthplace of the human eye. PLoS One 6(6): e20409, 2011.

Ratliff CP, Borghuis BG, Kao YH, Sterling P, Balasubramanian V: Retina is structured to process an excess of darkness in natural scenes. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 107: 17368-73, 2010.

Borghuis BG, Sterling P, Smith RG: Loss of sensitivity in an analog neural circuit. J. Neurosci. 29(10): 3045-3058, 2009.

Perge J, Koch K, Miller R, Sterling P, Balasubramanian V: How the optic nerve allocates space, energy, capacity, and information. J. Neurosci. 29(24): 7917-7928, 2009.

Borghuis BG, Ratliff CP, Smith RG, Sterling P, Balasubramanian V: Design of a neuronal array. J. Neurosci. 28(12): 3178-3189, 2008.

back to top
Last updated: 07/30/2015
The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania