Stan Colcombe, Ph.D.

Stan Colcombe, Ph.D.

Research Scientist and Section Head, Design, Acquisition & Neuromodulation Laboratories
Center for Biomedical Imaging and Neuromodulation

“In the first century, CE, the Roman satirist Juneval famously observed Orandum est, ut sit mens sana in corpore sano, or “A sound mind in a sound body is something to be prayed for.” This implicit link between mental and physical health, also paralleled by Eastern philosophies and practices such as tai chi, has survived the millennia since Juneval and his contemporaries. More recently, controlled examinations of the effects of physical fitness on cognitive performance have shown that improving cardiovascular fitness (CVF) can help to reduce the deleterious effects of age on cognition and brain structure. Thus, as we age, it may well be the case that a sound mind is a natural concomitant of a sound body.” Colcombe et al. (2004), Journal of Molecular Neuroscience


My pioneering work, 20 years ago, leveraged MRI approaches to demonstrate positive change in complex, higher-order cognitive functions resulting from cardiorespiratory fitness intervention and directly linked those changes with structural and functional brain change. Seeding a field of research into human brain changes associated with cardiorespiratory fitness, I bridged established knowledge from rodent models for direct translation in human interventional studies. Throughout my academic tenure I have bridged foundational knowledge developed in basic scientific research to human applied research areas through behavioral and neuroimaging methods. In these pursuits I have contributed to advances in understanding the effects of cardiorespiratory fitness on brain health and plasticity to offset age-related declines, big data open-science initiatives, translational research, and methodological / analytic advancements in MR imaging for human, NHP, and rodent models. A theme across these pursuits is my focus on the examination of attentional control networks sensitive to interventional manipulations across species that play a key role in symptoms observed in a wide range of diseases and disorders.



  • Director, Design Acquisition and Stimulation Laboratories, Nathan Kline Institute
  • Investigator, Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute, Columbia University
  • Research Associate Professor, NYU Grossman School of Medicine

Select Publications

  • Colcombe SJ, Kramer AF, Erickson KI, Scalf P, McAuley E, Cohen NJ, Webb A, Jerome GJ, Marquez DX, Elavsky S. Cardiovascular fitness, cortical plasticity, and aging. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Mar 2;101(9):3316-21. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0400266101. Epub 2004 Feb 20. PMID: 14978288; PMCID: PMC373255.
  • Colcombe SJ, Kramer AF, McAuley E, Erickson KI, Scalf P. Neurocognitive aging and cardiovascular fitness: recent findings and future directions. J Mol Neurosci. 2004;24(1):9-14. doi: 10.1385/JMN:24:1:009. PMID: 15314244.
  • Nooner KB, Colcombe SJ, Tobe RH, Mennes M, Benedict MM, Moreno AL, … Castellanos FX, Leventhal BL, Milham MP. The NKI-Rockland Sample: A Model for Accelerating the Pace of Discovery Science in Psychiatry. Front Neurosci. 2012 Oct 16;6:152. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2012.00152. PMID: 23087608; PMCID: PMC3472598.
  • Craddock RC, Jbabdi S, Yan CG, Vogelstein JT, Castellanos FX, Di Martino A, Kelly C, Heberlein K, Colcombe S, Milham MP. Imaging human connectomes at the macroscale. Nat Methods. 2013 Jun;10(6):524-39. doi: 10.1038/nmeth.2482. PMID: 23722212; PMCID: PMC4096321.
  • Kramer AF, Colcombe S. Fitness Effects on the Cognitive Function of Older Adults: A Meta-Analytic Study-Revisited. Perspect Psychol Sci. 2018 Mar;13(2):213-217. doi: 10.1177/1745691617707316. PMID: 29592650.
  • Turker HB, Riley E, Luh WM, Colcombe SJ, Swallow KM. Estimates of locus coeruleus function with functional magnetic resonance imaging are influenced by localization approaches and the use of multi-echo data. Neuroimage. 2021 Aug 1;236:118047. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2021.118047. Epub 2021 Apr 24. PMID: 33905860; PMCID: PMC8517932.