Dr. Scott Frey
SCI Advisory Board

Dr. Scott Frey is the Miller Family Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience, Director of the Brain Imaging Center, and Adjunct Professor in the Departments of Neurology, Psychiatry, and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Missouri, Columbia. The goals of Dr. Frey’s work are twofold: 1) understand the cognitive, sensory and motor mechanisms that make uniquely human behaviors possible, and 2) use this knowledge to develop more effective, neurally-motivated, rehabilitation strategies. His approach is to seek convergence in data gathered through a variety of different techniques including: functional and structural MRI, transcranial magnetic stimulation, and behavioral studies of healthy, brain- or bodily-injured populations.  Beginning in graduate school, his research has been supported by the NIH, as well as other federal institutions and private foundations.

Dr. Frey received a masters degree in Human Development at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, a Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology at Cornell University, and he decided to re-specialize in Cognitive Neuroscience and spent seven years at Dartmouth College and Medical School.

Early in his faculty career, Dr. Frey made a commitment to investigating how perception and cognition contribute to meaningful, real-world actions (e.g., reaching, grasping, using tools and gestures). He stepped out of the tenure track and spent seven years honing his skills as a cognitive neuroscientist at Dartmouth College and Medical School. There, he immersed himself in research involving neuroimaging, brain stimulation, kinematics and neuropsychology. When it became time to start his own group, he moved to the University of Oregon, where he directed a research MRI center and founded the Rehabilitation Neuroscience Laboratory. This lab is devoted to research aimed at improving rehabilitation of sensorimotor abilities in individuals with brain or bodily damage or disease.Subsequently, Dr. Frey accepted the newly established Miller Family Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Missouri, where he also directs the Brain Imaging Center and relocated the Rehabilitation Neuroscience Lab.

In graduate school, Dr. Frey became very serious about triathlons and competed as an amateur at regional and national levels for about a decade. As a scientist, he started reading what was available on endurance athletics and also began writing regular pieces on sport science for the publication Inside Triathlon (under his former name, “Scott Johnson”). When triathlon was organizing a bid to become an Olympic sport, he had an opportunity to be part of a working group on developing standards for coaching certification. Now several years wiser, Dr. Frey still enjoys training and occasionally competing in running, cross country skiing and cycling and works to keep abreast of major developments in sport science.

As an athlete, Dr. Frey finds the traditional work in sports psychology unsatisfying, wanting something with more convincing empirical evidence behind it. Likewise, mainstream exercise science has neglected the central role of the brain in all human performance. As a cognitive neuroscientist, he is convinced that what we are learning about motivation, perception and attention, skill learning, visualization and motor imagery has the potential to revolutionize the way that athletes approach training and competition.

This orientation led to his role on the science board for Axon Sports where his contributions focus on determining how best to develop tools that can exploit this knowledge and help athletes efficiently reshape critical brain functions necessary for optimal performance. Dr. Frey believes all athletes will benefit from improved emotional and motivational regulation, and enhanced perceptual, attentional and motor functions. However, the right mixture will differ between an elite archer, quarterback, or track athlete. Further, each individual brings their own unique profile, and so – as with physical training – it is essential that mental training be customized to address the balance of one’s strengths and weaknesses.