Heywood M Petry, PhD

Professor of Psychological & Brain Sciences

Director of the Grawemeyer Award in Psychology

Portrait of Woody Petry

Life Sciences Building, 316

(502) 852-6031

(502) 852-8904



  • B.A. (1974) Bates College, Lewiston ME
  • M.A. (1976) Connecticut College, New London CT
  • Ph.D. (1980) Brown University, Providence RI
  • Post-Doctoral fellow (1980-1982) Vanderbilt University, Nashville TN
  • Post-doctoral fellow (1982-1984) Brown University, Providence  RI

Courses often taught


  • PSYC 344 "Physiological Psychology"
  • PSYC 414 "Sleep, Dreaming and Biological Rhythms"
  • HON / PSYC "Great Ideas in Psychology: The Grawemeyer Awards"


  • PSYC 635 "Sensory Neuroscience"
  • PSYC 642 "Behavioral Neuroscience"

Research Interests

Two common themes of my research have been: 1) basic brain mechanisms of vision, and 2) the influence of the post-natal environment on the development and plasticity of these mechanisms. My approach has been to use a wide variety of complementary research methodologies to address specific research questions at neural levels ranging from molecular and cellular to neural systems and behavior. Over recent years my collaborators and have employed optogenetics, in-vivo optical imaging, immunocytochemistry, single-cell electrophysiology, evoked potentials (ERG, VEP), neuroanatomical tract-tracing, molecular biology, microspectrophotometry and visual psychophysics techniques. The variety of research methods in my lab has allowed undergraduates, graduate students and post-doctoral fellows to acquire first-hand exposure and technical skills in several areas of basic neuroscience and bio-medical research.

Recent research examined 1) the role of the pulvinar nucleus (the largest subdivision of the thalamus) in neural coding of visual movement and attention, and 2) the impact of a restricted spectral environment during early development on the visual system and adult visual function.  Collaborations have extended to the neural mechanisms of taste in the tree shrew.  More information is available on my laboratory website. The selected publications listed below were chosen to highlight recent projects, as well as to provide a sampling of the breadth of research problems addressed and methodologies used throughout my career to date.

NOTE:  I will not be taking new graduate students for the 2018-2019 academic year. 

Selected Publications


Dittmer AE, Garrett SR, Payne RA, Satterwhite M, Petry HM. (Eds.)  (2008) The Power of Ideas: Volume II. Louisville, KY: Butler Books.

Dittmer AE, Satterwhite M, Petry HM, Ziegler CE, et al.  (Eds.) (2015) The Legacy of the Grawemeyer Awards. Louisville, KY: Butler Books.


Petry, H.M. (2008)  The Grawemeyer Awards in Psychology.  In The Power of Ideas:  Volume II, AE Dittmer, SR Garrett, RA Payne, M Satterwhite and HM Petry.  Louisville KY: Butler Books, pp 210-251.

Petry, HM. (2015)  Introduction: The Grawemeyer Award in Psychology.  In Dittmer AE, Satterwhite M, Petry HM, Ziegler CE, et al. (Eds.), The Legacy of the Grawemeyer Awards.  Louisville, KY: Butler Books, pp. 177-180.


Petry HM (producer); Peak M (director) (2017) Mysteries of Human Memory: A Grawemeyer Awards 30th Anniversary Event. Broadcast on Kentucky Educational Television (KET)  January 2017. 


* Denotes graduate student or post-doc.

  • Petry HM, Bickford ME (2018) The second visual system of the tree shrew.  Journal of Comparative Neurology, in press.  
  • Day-Brown JD*, Slusarczyk AS, Zhou N*, Quiggans* R, Petry HM, Bickford ME. (2017) Synaptic organization of striate cortex projections in the tree shrew: A comparison of the claustrum and dorsal thalamus.  Journal of Comparative Neurology, 525:1403-1420. doi: 10.1002/cne.23998. PMID: 26971364.
  • Familtsev* D, Quiggins* R, P Masterson* S, Dang* W, Slusarczyk* AS, Petry HM, Bickford ME. (2016) Ultrastructure of geniculocortical synaptic connections in the tree shrew striate cortex.  Journal of Comparative Neurology, 524(6), 1292-1306. doi: 10.1002/cne.23907. PMID: 26399201
  • Vanni* M, Thomas* S, Petry HM, Bickford ME, Casanova C. (2015) Spatiotemporal profile of voltage-sensitive dye responses in the visual cortex of tree shrews evoked by electrical microstimulation of the dorsal lateral geniculate and pulvinar nuclei. Journal of Neuroscience, 35(34), 11891-11896. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0717-15.2015.
  • Balaram* P, Isaamullah* M, Petry HM, Bickford ME, Kaas J. (2015) Distributions of vesicular glutamate transporters 1 and 2 in the visual system of tree shrews (Tupaia belangeri).  Journal of Comparative Neurology, 523:1792-1808. doi: 10.1002/cne.23727.
  • Baldwin* MKL, Wei* H, Reed* JL, Bickford ME, Petry HM, Kaas JH. (2012) Cortical projections to the superior colliculus in tree shrews (Tupaia belangeri). Journal of Comparative Neurology, 521(7):1614-32. doi: 10.1002/cne.23249
  • Wei* H, Bonjean* M, Petry HM, Sejnowski T, Bickford ME (2011) Thalamic burst firing propensity: a comparison of the dorsal lateral geniculate and pulvinar nuclei in the tree shrew. Journal of Neuroscience, 31(47), 17287-17299. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.6431-10.2011
  • Wei* H, Masterson* SP, Petry HM, Bickford ME (2011) Diffuse and specific tectopulvinar terminals in the tree shrew: synapses, synapsins, and synaptic potentials. PLoS ONE, 6(8): e23781. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0023781
  • Day-Brown* JD, Wei* H, Chomsung* RD, Petry HM, Bickford ME (2010) Pulvinar projections to the straitum and amygdala in the tree shrew. Frontiers in Neuroanatomy, 4, article 143. (published November 15, 2010, doi: 10.3389/fnana.2010.00143)  Reprinted in Frontiers in Neuroanatomy Research Topics e-book: Basal Ganglia Circuits (hosted by JL Lanciego), 2012, 136-146. 
  • Chomsung* RD, Wei* H, Day-Brown* JD, Petry HM, Bickford ME. (2009) Synaptic organization of connections between the temporal cortex and pulvinar nucleus of the tree shrew. Cerebral Cortex, Advance Access published August 14, 2009, doi:10.1093/cerecor/bhp162.
  • Chomsung* RD, Petry HM and Bickford ME. (2008) Ultrastructural examination of diffuse and specific tectopulvinar projections in the tree shrew. Journal of Comparative Neurology, 510(24), 24-46.
  • Radtke ND, Aramant RB, Petry HM, Greene PT, Pidwell DJ, Seiler M. (2008) Vision improvement in retinal degeneration patients by implantation of retina together with retinal pigment epithelium. American Journal of Ophthalmology, 146(2), 172-182.
  • Lu*, H. and Petry, H.M. (2003) Temporal modulation sensitivity of tree shrew retinal ganglion cells. Visual Neuroscience, 20(4), 363-372.
  • Callahan*, T.L. and Petry, H.M. (2000) Psychophysical measurement of temporal modulation sensitivity in the tree shrew. Vision Research, 40, 455-458.
  • Ball*, S.L. and Petry, H.M. (2000) Non-invasive measurement of retinal function in rats using multifocal electroretinography. Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, 41, 610-617.
  • Cao*, Q.-L., Murphy*, H.A. and Petry, H.M. (1999) Localization of nitric oxide synthase in the tree shrew retina. Visual Neuroscience, 16, 399-409.
  • Petry, H.M. and Murphy*, H.A. (1995) Differentiation of short-wavelength-sensitive cones by NADPH-diaphorase histochemistry. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA), 92, 5121-5123.
  • Petry, H.M. (1993) Long-term changes in visual mechanisms following differential stimulation of color and luminance channels during development. Progress in Brain Research, 95, 235-250.
  • Petry, H.M. (1993) Magno and parvo visual channels and the subjective Necker cube. Vision Research, 33, 845-847.
  • Agarwala*, S., Günlük*, A.E., May, J.G., and Petry, H.M. (1992) Immunohistochemical organization of the ventral lateral geniculate nucleus in the tree shrew. Journal of Comparative Neurology, 318, 267-276.
  • Petry, H.M. and Kelly*, J.P. (1991) Psychophysical measurement of spectral sensitivity and color vision in red-light-reared tree shrews (Tupaia belangeri). Vision Research, 31, 1749-1757.
  • Petry, H.M. and Hárosi, F.I. (1990) The visual pigments of tree shrew (Tupaia belangeri) and galago (Galago crassicaudatus): a microspectrophotometric investigation. Vision Research, 30, 839-851.
  • Norton, T.T., Irvin*, G.E., Casagrande, V.A., Sesma*, M.A., and Petry, H.M. (1988) Contrast sensitivity functions of W-, X- and Y-like relay cells in the lateral geniculate nucleus of the bush baby (Galago crassicaudatus). Journal of Neurophysiology, 59, 1639-1656.
  • Petry, H.M., Donovan, W.J., Moore*, R.K., Dixon*, W.B., and Riggs, L.A. (1982) Changes in the human visually evoked potential in response to chromatic modulation of a sinusoidal grating. Vision Research, 22, 745-755.
  • White*, K.D., Petry, H.M., Riggs, L.A., and Miller, J. (1978) Binocular interactions during establishment of McCollough effects. Vision Research, 18,1201-1215.
  • Bradley, D.R., and Petry, H.M. (1977) Organizational determinants of subjective contour: the subjective Necker cube. American Journal of Psychology, 90, 253-262.
  • Bradley, DR, Dumais SM, Petry HM (1976) Ambiguous cognitive contours: a reply to Cavonius.  Nature, 261, 78.