Scott Grafton

CRML Affiliated Faculty

Distinguished Professor, Psychological & Brain Sciences

Action Lab


I am interested in the challenges inherent to establishing causal inference that is generated from noisy observational data. I primarily work with human brain imaging data and apply machine learning methods as part of my analysis. The core problem here, as in many other domains, is the identification of causal relationships that “do work” in the sense that they change how we conceptualize an important problem or how we make actionable decisions based on our data.


Dr. Grafton joined Dartmouth College to direct the first free-standing MRI research center for functional brain imaging in the US that was not embedded within a radiology department. He then joined the faculty at UCSB in 2006, where he directs the UCSB Brain Imaging Center. In his laboratory, he oversees an interdisciplinary research program at the interface of learning theory, the organization of skilled action, network science, and multimodal brain imaging. With more than 230 peer reviewed publications, he is recognized for developing novel analysis tools that are used to characterize plasticity and learning, particularly in the human motor system. Clinically, these tools are being used to identify changes in brain connectivity during stroke recovery, after mild traumatic brain injury and after repeated sub-concussive head impacts that are part of normal athletics. Dr. Grafton is Co-Director at the Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies, a DoD funded research center with over $10 million in annual funding. The Institute supports 26 investigators who perform basic research with bio-enabled materials, systems and synthetic biology and neuroscience. These innovative bioengineering solutions are transitioned to both non-medical and medical challenges posed by the defense and medical communities. This position has provided a privileged opportunity for him to develop a broad scientific perspective that extends far beyond neuroscience, clinical neurology and imaging.