Faculty Profile: Andrea Megela Simmons, Ph. D., Harvard University

Andrea Megela Simmons
Andrea Megela Simmons, Ph. D., Harvard University
Cognitive, Linguistic & Psychological Sciences
Work: +1 401-863-2283
My laboratory studies how the nervous system develops, matures, and reorganizes in response to damage. We use frogs as a model system because these animals go through a lengthy larval stage during which their bodies and brains transform to accommodate the transition from an aquatic to an amphibious lifestyle. As adults, frogs can regenerate damaged hair cells and cranial nerves, making them excellent models to understand the molecular bases of how the brain might recover from injury.


Andrea Simmons received her PhD in Psychology (Psychobiology) from Harvard University. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Section of Neurobiology and Behavior at Cornell University. She is currently Professor of Cognitive, Linguistic and Psychological Sciences, with a secondary appointment in Neuroscience.



Research Description

We use electrophysiological, neuroanatomical, immunohistochemical, genetic, and behavioral techniques to understand the processes of brain development and recovery from injury.

Grants and Awards

Fellow, Acoustical Society of America (elected 2002)
Chair, Animal Bioacoustics Technical Committee, Acoustical Society of America (2003-2006)
Member, Executive Council, Acoustical Society of America, 2008-11


Acoustical Society of America
International Society for Neuroethology
Society for Neuroscience

Funded Research

National Institutes of Health/National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIH/NIDCD) R01 DC05257-16: "Neuroethology of vocal communication in anurans"

Rhode Island Space Grant Consortium: "Development of a biomimetic system for orientation in microgravity"

Selected Publications

  • B.P. Schmidt, J. M. Knowles and A.M. Simmons (2011) Movements of Rana catesbeiana tadpoles in weak current flows resemble a directed random walk. Journal of Experimental Biology, 214, 2297-2307. (2011)
  • A.M. Simmons and V. Flores (2011). Particle motion is broadly represented in the vestibular medulla of the bullfrog across larval development. Journal of Comparative Physiology A. DOI 10.1007/s00359-011-0705-y (2011)
  • Bates, M.E., Cropp, B., Gonchar, M., Knowles, J., Simmons, J.A., and Simmons, A.M. (2010). Spatial location influences acoustic interactions in chorusing bullfrogs. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 127:2664-2677. (2010)
  • Horowitz, S.S. and Simmons, A.M. (2010) Development of tectal connectivity across metamorphosis in the bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana). Brain, Behavior and Evolution 76:226-227 (DOI: 10.1159/000322550) (2010)
  • Simmons, J. A. and Simmons, A.M. (2010) Bats and frogs and animals in between: Evidence for a common central timing mechanism to extract periodicity pitch. Journal of Comparative Physiology A. (DOI 10.1007/s00359-010-0607-4) (2010)
  • Simmons A.M. (2010) Acoustic Signals. In: Breed M.D. and Moore J., (eds.) Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior, volume 1, pp. 7-15 Oxford: Academic Press. (2010)
  • Simmons, A.M., Horowitz, S.S. & Brown, R.A. 2008. Cell proliferation in the forebrain and midbrain of the adult bullfrog, Rana catesbeiana. Brain, Behavior and Evolution 71: 41-53. (2008)
  • Simmons,A.M., Tanyu,L.H., Horowitz,S.S., Chapman, J.A.,& Brown,R.A. 2008. Developmental and regional patterns of GAP-43 immunoreactivity in a metamorphosing brain. Brain, Behavior and Evolution 71: 247-262 (DOI:10.1159/000127045) (2008)
  • Horowitz, S.S., Chapman, J.A. & Simmons, A.M. 2007. Plasticity of auditory medullary-midbrain connectivity across metamorphic development in the bullfrog, Rana catesbeiana. Brain, Behavior and Evolution 69: 1-19. (2007)
  • Horowitz, S.S., Tanyu, L.H., & Simmons, A.M. 2007. Multiple mechanosensory modalities influence development of auditory function. Journal of Neuroscience, 27: 782-790. (2007)
  • Horowitz, S.S., & Simmons, A.M. 2007. Dynamic visualization of the developing nervous system of the bullfrog, Rana catesbeiana. Brain Research, 1157: 23-31. (2007)
  • Chapman, J.A., Weinstein, J.L., & Simmons, A.M. 2006. Cell proliferation in the Rana catesbeiana auditory medulla over metamorphic development. Journal of Neurobiology, 66: 115-133. (2006)
  • Simmons, A.M. & Horowitz, S.S. 2006. Plasticity in the auditory system across metamorphosis. In: Hearing and Sound Communication in Amphibians (Narins PM, Feng AS, Fay RR, Popper AN, editors). Springer-Verlag. (2006)
  • Simmons A.M., Chapman, J.A., & Brown, R.A. 2006. Developmental changes in cell proliferation in the auditory midbrain of the bullfrog, Rana catesbeiana. Journal of Neurobiology 66: 1212-1224. (2006)
  • Horowitz SS, Simmons AM, & Ketten DR. 2005. Optical and tomographic imaging of a middle ear malformation in the bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana). Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 118, 1166-1171. (2005)
  • Templin T, & Simmons AM. 2005. Cellular and spatial changes in the anuran superior olive across metamorphosis. Hearing Research, 207, 87-98. (2005)
  • Simmons AM., Costa LM, & Gerstein HB. 2004. Lateral line-mediated rheotactic behavior in tadpoles of the African clawed frog (Xenopus laevis). Journal of Comparative Physiology A, 190, 747-758. (2004)
  • Suggs DN, & Simmons AM. 2004. Information theory analysis of patterns of amplitude modulation in the advertisement call of the male bullfrog, Rana catesbeiana. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 115, 1345-1355. (2004)
  • Simmons AM. 2004. Call recognition in the bullfrog, Rana catesbeiana: Generalization along the duration continuum. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 115, 1345-1355. (2004)
  • Simmons, AM & Chapman JA. 2002. Metamorphic changes in GABA immunoreactivity in the brainstem of the bullfrog, Rana catesbeiana. Brain, Behavior and Evolution, 60: 189-206. (2002)
  • Simmons A.M., Popper A.N., & Fay R.R. (editors). 2002. Acoustic Communication. Springer Handbook of Auditory Research, v. 16. Springer-Verlag, New York. (2002)
  • Horowitz, SS, Chapman JA, Kaya U & Simmons AM. 2001. Metamorphic development of the bronchial columella of the larval bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana). Hearing Research, 154, 12-25. (2001)
  • Boatright-Horowitz, SS & Simmons AM. 1997. Transient "deafness" accompanies auditory development during metamorphosis from tadpole to frog. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 94, 14877-14882. (1997)