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Blake Porter, PhD

University of Otago — New Zealand

Phone: +64 021-338-020




Ph.D. in Psychology 2014 – 2017

University of Otago – Dunedin, NZ

B.A. in Neuroscience with Honors 2009 – 2013                                                    

Minor: Human Physiology

Boston University – Boston, MA


Research Experience:

Kristin Hillman Lab for the Neural Basis of Effortful Behaviour 2017 – Present

Post-doctoral fellow

University of Otago, Dunedin, NZ

Use of in vivo electrophysiology techniques to investigate the neural mechanisms of quitting behaviors.


Mike Colombo Lab for the Neural Basis of Learning and Memory 2016 – Present 

Assistant research fellow

University of Otago, Dunedin, NZ

Data analysis using Matlab to analyze pigeon behavior and neural responses in a wide range of behavioral paradigms. Conducting and teaching students histology for electrode placement. 


David Bilkey Lab for Brain and Behavior 2014 – 2017

In conjunction with the Brain Health and Research Center

PhD Student

University of Otago, Dunedin, NZ

Use of in vivo electrophysiology techniques to investigate how self-control is represented at a neural level, the effects that choice costs have on the brain’s representation of the world, and the circuit level dynamics of planning actions utilizing cost information


Howard Eichenbaum Lab for Cognitive Neurobiology 2012 – 2014

(Undergraduate) Research Assistant

Boston University, Boston, MA, USA

Use of in vivo electrophysiology techniques to investigate the structure of memory consolidation and organization in the hippocampus with learning, hippocampal and medial prefrontal circuit dynamics in a context-guided object association task, and to investigate the neural mechanisms by which conjunctive encoding within the dentate gyrus and between the dentate gyrus and other hippocampal subregions.



  • Blake S. Porter and David K. Bilkey. Place cell encoding of terrain slope. (in prep)
  • Madeline Dykes, Aylin Klarer, Blake Porter, Jonas Rose, & Michael Colombo. Value encoding in the pigeon NCL. (submitted)
  • Lara M. Rangel, Blake Porter, Ian S. Heimbuch, Pamela D. Riverère, Katie Keefe, and Howard Eichenbaum. Conjunctive encoding in the Dentate Gyrus of the Hippocampus. (in prep)
  • Robert G.K. Munn, Kiah Hardcastle, Blake Porter, & David Bilkey. Circadian-scale periodic bursts in theta and gamma-band coherence between hippocampus, cingulate and insular cortices. Neurobiology of Sleep and Circadian Rhythms. 2017. 3; 26 – 37. Open access. [PDF]
  • Lara M. Rangel, Jon W. Rueckemann, Pamela D. Riverère, Katie R. Keefe, Blake S. Porter, Ian S. Heimbuch, Carl H. Budlong, and Howard Eichenbaum. Rhythmic coordination of hippocampal neurons during associative memory processing. eLife. 11 January 2016. 5:e09849. doi: Open Access.
  • Anja Farovik, Ryan Place, Samuel McKenzie, Blake Porter, Catherine Munro, and Howard Eichenbaum. Orbitofrontal cortex encodes memories within value-based schemas and represents contexts that guide memory retrieval. Journal of Neuroscience. 27 May 2015. 35(21):8333-8344. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0134-15.2015
  • Sam McKenzie, Andrea J. Frank, Nathaniel R. Kinsky, Blake Porter, Pamela D. Riverère, and Howard Eichenbaum. Hippocampal Representation of Related and Opposing Memories Develop within Distinct, Hierarchically Organized Neural Schemas. Neuron. 2 July 2014. 83(1)202 – 215.


Poster Presentations:

  • Blake S. Porter, Calvin K. Young, and David K. Bilkey. Hippocampal place cell representations of effortful space. Australasian Winter Conference on Brain Research, 2016.
  • Blake S. Porter, Kristin L. Hillman,  and David K. Bilkey. The neural mechanisms of representing effortful space. Australasian Winter Conference on Brain Research, 2015.
  • Lara M. Rangel, Katie R. Keefe, Pamela D. Riverère, Carl H. Budlong, Ian S. Heimbuch, Blake Porter, and Howard Eichenbaum. Single cell and ensemble odor-place representations in the Dentate Gyrus and CA1 of the Hippocampus. Society for Neuroscience 2014 Conference.
  • Lara M. Rangel, Jeremiah S. Rosen, K. V. Chawla, Brian J. Ferreri, Ian Heimbuch, Blake Porter, and Howard Eichenbaum. Persistent increases in beta frequency oscillatory activity in the Dentate Gyrus of the Hippocampus During Object-Context Association Intervals.Society for Neuroscience 2013 Conference.
  • Anja Farovik, Sam McKenzie, Ryan Place, Blake Porter, and Howard Eichenbaum. Neural activity by Medial Prefrontal cell ensembles during context-guided object discrimination. Society for Neuroscience 2013 Conference.
  • Sam McKenzie, Andrea Frank, Lara M. Rangel, Jeremiah S. Rosen, Vittoria Smeglin, Blake Porter, and Howard Eichenbaum. Multidimensionalcoding in the Hippocampal network. Society for Neuroscience 2013 Conference.
  • Blake Porter, Andrea Frank, and Howard Eichenbaum. How does the Hippocampus integrate multiple related memory representations?Boston University Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program Symposium, 2012.



  • Blake Porter. The effects of effort on hippocampal spatial representations. Brain Health Research Center 10th Annual Conference, 2016.
  • Blake Porter and David Bilkey. The network dynamics of effort encoding between the hippocampus and anterior cingulate cortex. Brain Health Research Center 9th Annual Conference, 2015.
  • Blake Porter. The cost of space: How the brain works and maybe how it plans costly routes. Presentation at the University of Otago’s Abbey College, 2015.


Research Funding:

Postdoctoral Research Fellow on the Marsden Grant “Quit or persist? The neural mechanisms of forfeit behaviour ” 

October 2017 – September 2020

University of Otago


PhD Scholarship from the Marsden Grant “The Brain Mechanisms of Self-Control”

February 2014 – January 2017

University of Otago


New Zealand Neurological Foundation Travel Grant

Australasian Winter Conference on Brain Research 2015 and 2016

Queenstown, NZ


UROP/HHMI Summer Grant for investigating “How Does the Hippocampus Integrate Multiple Related Memory Representations”

Summer 2012

Boston University


Teaching Experience:

Research Teaching and Mentoring: Teaching students rodent behavioral training, stereotaxic surgery, and in vivo electrophysiology methods.

Advisees (their subsequent pursuit):


Demonstrator at University of Otago

Spring 2016

  • Biopsychology (PSYC317)


Mentor for Boston University Mind and Brain Society

Fall 2011 – Spring 2013

  • Mentored incoming freshman in the Undergraduate Neuroscience Program at BU.


Tutor at

October 2010 – September 2011

  • Tutored online from kindergarten to college level in biology, natural sciences, and math.

Work Experience:

Founder and CEO Long Term Potential Inc. May 2016 – May 2017 

Focused on developing STEM education technologies for interactive learning


Technical Expertise:

  • Animal Behavior: Rat handling and training on context-object and odor-place associative memory tasks, effort modulated linear tracks, dual animal interaction task. Video behavioural scoring (Cineplex Editor) and behavioural spatial tracking analysis (Matlab). Designing and implementing novel tasks targeted at effort based neural computations.
  • In vivo electrophysiology: 8 – 96 channel microdrive design and construction for multisite recordings using conventional and 3D printing techniques. Implementation of wireless in vivo recording systems and methods. Stereotaxic surgical implantation of microdrives and electrodes for single unit and local field potential recordings in awake-behaving rats targeting hippocampal subregions (CA1, CA3, DG), medial prefrontal cortex, orbitofrontal cortex, and anterior cingulate cortex. Recording single units and local field potentials in awake-behaving rats, spike sorting, and perfusions.
  • Computer programming: Proficient: MATLAB for analysis of behavioural, single unit, and local field potential data. C++/Arduino Development Environment for microcontrollers for the use of data collection and maze controlling (ie, doors, touch screens, solenoids, etc). Some experience: Python, Processing (Java), p5.js (JavaScript).


Research Interests:

  • How the brain encodes effort, how it is effort modulates the brain’s representations of the world, and how effort influences goal setting, decision making, and persistence.
  • Brain rhythms and their underlying mechanisms in order to investigate circuit level communication between the hippocampus and downstream structures, particularly the prefrontal cortex.
  • How brain structures organize similar and distinct memories and how memory organization influences learning and decision making.
  • How the brain represents space in three dimensions when the z-axis is behaviourally relevant.