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Rodolfo Llinás

Rodolfo Llinás

Colombian neuroscientist
Rodolfo Llinás
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro Colombian neuroscientist
A.K.A. Rodolfo Llinas
Is Neurologist Neuroscientist Physician
From Colombia United States of America
Type Healthcare Science
Gender male
Birth 16 December 1934, Bogotá, Colombia
Age 85 years
Star sign Sagittarius
Residence New York City, USA
Australian National University
Pontifical Xavierian University
doctor honoris causa 1997
honorary doctorate of the University of Salamanca 1984
Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences  
Ralph W. Gerard Prize 2018
The details


Rodolfo Llinás Riascos (Bogotá, Colombia 16 December 1934) is a Colombian-born American neuroscientist. He is currently the Thomas and Suzanne Murphy Professor of Neuroscience and Chairman Emeritus of the Department of Physiology & Neuroscience at the NYU School of Medicine. Llinás has published over 800 scientific articles.[1]

Early life

Llinás was born in Bogotá, Colombia. He is the son of Jorge Enrique Llinas (a surgeon) and Bertha Riascos. He was motivated to study the brain by watching his grandfather Pablo Llinás Olarte working as a neuropsychiatrist. Llinás is an atheist and describes himself as a logical positivist.

Education and early research

Llinás went to the Gimnasio Moderno school in Bogotá and graduated as a medical doctor from the Pontifical Xavierian University in 1959. During his medical studies he had the opportunity to travel to Europe and there he met several researchers in Spain, France and finally Switzerland, where he participated in neurophysiology experiments with Dr. Walter Rudolf Hess, Nobel Prize in Physiology, Medicine, professor and director of the Department of the Institute of Physiology of the University of Zurich. Additionally, while studying medicine he made a theoretical thesis on the visual system under the tuition of neurosurgeon and neurophysiologist Fernando Rosas and the mathematician Carlo Federici at the National University of Colombia. He received his PhD in 1965 from the Australian National University working under Sir John Eccles.

Personal life

By graduation in Australia, he was very interested in the biological basis of the mind. During this time he met his future wife who was studying philosophy. His two sons are also physicians and his wife is an Australian philosopher of mind. Llinás was a scientific advisor during the establishment of an interactive science museum located in Bogotá, Colombia called Maloka Museum. Recently, Llinás has donated a T-Rex skeleton to the museum and helped to design a model of the nervous system for the dinosaur fossils.


He has studied the electrophysiology of single neurons in the cerebellum, the thalamus, the cerebral cortex, the entorhinal cortex, the hippocampus, the vestibular system, the inferior olive and the spinal cord. He has studied synaptic transmitter release in the squid giant synapse. He has studied human brain function using magnetoencephalography (MEG) on the basis of which he introduced the concept of Thalamocortical dysrhythmia.


Llinás has occupied a number of positions.

  • Research fellow, Massachusetts General Hosp.-Harvard University, 1960–61
  • National Institutes of Health research fellow in physiology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, 1961–63
  • Associate professor, University Minnesota, Minneapolis, 1965–66
  • Associate member, American Medical Association Institute Biomed. Research, Chicago, 1966–68
  • Member, American Medical Association Institute Biomed. Research, Chicago, 1970
  • Head neurobiology unit, American Medical Association Institute Biomed. Research, Chicago, 1967–70
  • Associate professor neurology and psychiatry, Northwestern University, 1967–71
  • Guest professor physiology, Wayne State University, 1967–74
  • Professorial lecturer pharmacology, University Ill.-Chgo., 1967–68
  • Clinical professor, University Ill.-Chgo., 1968–72
  • Professor physiology, head neurobiology div., University of Iowa, 1970–76
  • Prof., chairman physiology and biophysics, New York University, New York City, 1976—2011
  • Thomas and Suzanne Murphy professor neuroscience., New York University, 1985—
  • University Professor, Department of Neuroscience and Physiology., New York University, 2011—


Llinás is known for his many contributions to neuroscience, however, his most important contributions are the following:

  • Discovery of dendritic inhibition in central neurons (at the mammalian motoneuron).
  • The functional organization of the cerebellar cortex neuronal circuits.
  • Defining cerebellar function from an evolutionary perspective.
  • First description of electrical coupling in the mammalian CNS (mesencephalic trigeminal nucleus).
  • First determination of presynaptic calcium current, under voltage clamp, at the squid giant synapse.
  • Discovery that vertebrate neurons (cerebellar Purkinje cell) can generate calcium-dependent spikes.
  • Proposal and Organization of NASA Neurolab Project that flew on April 17, 1998, Space Shuttle Columbia.
  • Discovery of the P-type calcium channel in the Purkinje cells.
  • Discovery of low threshold spikes generated by low voltage activated calcium conductaces (presently known as due to T-type calcium channel) in inferior olive and thalamus neurons.
  • A tensor network model of the transformation of sensory space-time coordinates into motor coordinates by the cerebellum.
  • Asserting the law of no interchangeability of neurons, which it is known as Llinás' law.
  • Direct demonstration of calcium concentration microdomains at the presynaptic active zone.
  • Utilization of magnetoencephalography in clinical research.
  • Discovery of subthreshold membrane potential oscillations in the inferior olive, thalamus and entorhinal cortex.
  • The discovery of Thalamocortical dysrhythmia.
  • Artificial olivo-cerebellar motor control system as part of the project BAUV (Undersea Vehicle) of the US Navy developed by P. Bandyopadhyay.

Memberships and Honors

Llinás is a member of the United States National Academy of Sciences (1986),[2] the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1996),[3] American Philosophical Society (1996), the Real Academia Nacional de Medicina (Spain) (1996) and the French Academy of Science (2002). Dr. Llinás has received honorary degrees from the following universities:

  • Universidad de Salamanca (Spain) (1985)
  • Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (Spain) (1993)
  • National University of Colombia (1994)
  • Universidad Complutense, Madrid, Spain (1997)
  • Los Andes University (Colombia), Bogotá, Colombia, (1998)
  • Toyama University, Toyama, Japan (2005)
  • University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy (2006)

Dr. Llinás has received the following awards:

  • UNESCO Albert Einstein medal (1991)
  • Order of Boyaca Awarded President of Colombia for exceptional service to Colombia (1992)
  • Bernard Katz Award Biohysical Society, Washington USA (2012)[4]
  • Gold Medal of CSIC [es], Spanish National Research Council, Madrid, Spain (2012)[5]
  • Cajal Diploma given by Queen Sofia of Spain Madrid, Spain (2013)[6]
  • Ragnar Granit Lecture and Award, Nobel Institute, Stockholm, Sweden (2013)
  • Castilla del Pino Lecture and Award Cordoba, Spain (2015)[7]
  • Nansen Neuroscience Lecture and award Norwegian Academy of Science, Oslo, Norway (2016)[8]
  • Scholar of the Year Australian National University, Canberra, Australia (2016)[9]
  • Ralph W. Gerard Prize in Neuroscience Society for Neuroscience, (2018) [10]

He was the chairman of NASA/Neurolab Science Working Group, in 2011 received University Professor Distinction from New York University [11] and in 2013, the NYU Neuroscience Institute created the Annual Rodolfo Llinás Lecture Series in recognition of his contributions to the field of neuroscience.

Selected bibliography

Llinás is the author of more than 20 book chapters and has edited several books on neuroscience.


  • Hubbard, J.I., Llinás, R. and Quastel, D.M.J. Electrophysiological Analysis of Synaptic Transmission. London: Edward Arnold Publishers 1969.
  • Llinás, R. Editor. Neurobiology of Cerebellar Evolution and Development. (Chicago: Am. Med. Association, 1969)
  • Precht, W., Llinás, R. (eds.): Frog Neurobiology: a handbook. (Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 1976). link.springer.com/10.1007/978-3-642-66316-1 ISBN 978-3-642-66318-5
  • Steriade, M., Jones, E., y Llinás, R (Eds.): Thalamic Oscillations and Signaling. The Neurosciences Institute Publications Series. (John Wiley & Sons, 1990). ISBN 0-471-51508-6
  • Llinás, R. y Sotelo, C (eds.): The Cerebellum Revisited. (Nueva York: Springer-Verlag, 1992). link.springer.com/10.1007/978-1-4612-2840-0 ISBN 978-1-4612-7691-3
  • Buzsaki, G., Llinas, R., Singer, W., Berthoz, A. , Christen, Y. (eds.): Temporal Coding in the Brain. (Nueva York: Springer-Verlag, 1994). link.springer.com/10.1007/978-3-642-85148-3 ISBN 978-3-642-85150-6
  • Latorre, R., López-Barneo, J., Bezanilla, F., Llinás, R. (Eds) Biofísica y fisiología celular. (Universidad de Sevilla, España, 1996). ISBN 84-472-0339-5
  • Llinás, Rodolfo R. and Churchland, Patricia S. Mind-Brain Continuum: Sensory Processes The MIT Press (September 9, 1996) ISBN 0-262-12198-0
  • Llinás, Rodolfo R. The Squid Giant Synapse : A Model for Chemical Transmission Oxford University Press, USA (December 15, 1999) ISBN 0-19-511652-6
  • Llinás, Rodolfo. El reto: Educación, Ciencia y Tecnología. Tercer Mundo Editores, (2000) ISBN 978-958-601-887-6
  • Llinás, R. I of the vortex: from neurons to self (MIT Press, Cambridge, MA. 2001). ISBN 0-262-62163-0

Book chapters

  • Llinas R, Rivary U. Perception as an oneiric-like state modulated by the senses. Chapter 6. In: Koch C. Large-scale neuronal theories of the brain. Bradford Book. (1994). ISBN 9780262111836
  • Llinas RR., Walton KD. Cerebellum. Chapter 7. In: Shepherd GM. The synaptic organization of the brain. 4th Ed. New York: Oxford University Press. (1998) ISBN 0195118243
  • Llinas RR., Walton KD., Lang EJ. Cerebellum. Chapter 7. In: Shepherd GM. The synaptic organization of the brain. 5th Ed. Oxford University Press. (2004) ISBN 0195159551
  • Llinas, R. R. Neuroscientific basis of consciousness and dreaming. Chapter 3.6. In: Kaplan and Sadock's Comprehensive textbook of psychiatry. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. 8th ed. (2005).
  • Llinás, R. Electrophysiology of the Cerebellar Networks. Comprehensive Physiology (2011). Supplement 2. Handbook of Physiology, The Nervous System, Motor Control. doi:10.1002/cphy.cp010217 ISBN 9780470650714
  • Llinas RR., Walton K. Central pain: a thalamic deafferentation generating thalamocortical dysrhythmia. Chapter 4. In: Saab CY. Chronic pain and brain abnormalities. Academic Press-Elsevier (2014). ISBN 9780123983893
  • Llinas, RR. Oscillation in the inferior olive neurons: Functional implication. Chapter 39. pp. 293–298. In: Essentials of Cerebellum and Cerebellar Disorders: A Primer for Graduate Students. Springer (2016) ISBN 978-3-319-24551-5
  • Llinas, R. R. Consciousness and Dreaming from a Pathophysiological Perspective: The Thalamocortical Dysrhythmia Syndrome. Chapter 3.5. In: Kaplan and Sadock's Comprehensive textbook of psychiatry. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. 10th ed. (2017). ISBN 978-1-4511-0047-1

Selected review articles

  • Llinás RR. The intrinsic electrophysiological properties of mammalian neurons: insights into central nervous system function. Science. 1988 Dec 23;242(4886):1654-64.
  • Llinás RR, Sugimori M, Cherksey B. Voltage-dependent calcium conductance in mammalian neurons. The P channel. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1989;560:103-11.
  • Llinás RR. Depolarization release coupling: an overview. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1991;635:3-17.
  • Llinás RR, Paré D. Of dreaming and wakefulness. Neuroscience. 1991;44(3):521-35.
  • Llinás R, Ribary U. Consciousness and the brain. The thalamocortical dialogue in health and disease. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2001 Apr;929:166-75. doi:10.1111/j.1749-6632.2001.tb05715.x
  • Llinás, Rodolfo R., and Steriade, Mircea. Bursting of thalamic neurons and states of vigilance. Invited Review J. Neurophysiol., 95:3297-3308, 2006. doi:10.1152/jn.00166.2006
  • Roy S, Llinás R. Dynamic geometry, brain function modeling, and consciousness. Prog Brain Res. 2008;168:133-44. doi:10.1016/S0079-6123(07)68011-X
  • Llinás RR. Cerebellar motor learning versus cerebellar motor timing: the climbing fibre story. J Physiol. 2011 Jul 15;589(Pt 14):3423-32. doi:10.1113/jphysiol.2011.207464
  • Buzsáki G, Llinás R. Space and time in the brain. Science. 2017 Oct 27;358(6362):482-485. doi:10.1126/science.aan8869
The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 22 Apr 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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