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Nicolaas Adrianus Johannes Puts, M.Sc., Ph.D.

Photo of Dr. Nicolaas Adrianus Johannes Puts, M.Sc., Ph.D.
  • Assistant Professor of Radiology and Radiological Science

Research Interests

Autism Spectrum Disorder, Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy, GABA, tactile function, somatosensory cortex, Neurodevelopmental disorders


Dr. Puts is an assistant professor in the Division of Neuroradiology in the Russell. H Morgan Department of Radiology and Radiological Science. His research focuses on studying the cortical inhibitory mechanisms underlying sensory dysfunction in children with neurodevelopmental disorders, predominantly Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

GABA is the main inhibitory neurotransmitter in the human brain, and is key in regulating brain activity, and encoding stimulus properties. While ASD is predominantly characterized by social and communicative symptoms, sensory impairments are common and have recently been added to core symptoms of ASD. 

Dr. Puts uses edited Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS) to measure GABA levels in vivo in the human brain. Furthermore, he used psychophysics (behavioral measurements) to study tactile function in children. By combing MRS with psychophysics, Dr. Puts studies how differences in inhibitory brain function are related to altered tactile sensitivity.

Aside from this work, Dr. Puts supports the development and dissemination of MRS acquisition and analysis methodologies to national and international sites. He supports the development of the Gannet software package (

Finally, Dr. Puts has a strong interest in professional development for young scientists. During his postdoctoral fellowship, he was co-president of the Johns Hopkins Postdoctoral Association, and he continues to support the association. With Dr. Richard Edden, Dr. Puts has developed workshops on oral presentations. He is currently enrolled in the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine Junior Faculty Leadership Program. more


  • Assistant Professor of Radiology and Radiological Science

Departments / Divisions

Centers & Institutes



  • Ph.D., Cardiff University (United Kingdom) (2012)
  • M.Sc., Utrecht University (The Netherlands) (2008)
  • B.Sc., Utrecht University (The Netherlands) (2006)

Research & Publications

Research Summary

My current work focuses on the investigation of cortical dynamics in the tactile domain by applying tactile tasks and in vivo magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) of GABA, to assess the relationship between what happens in the brain (GABAergic inhibition), and the behavior it ultimately leads to (tactile sensitivity). I apply these techniques in neurodevelopmental disorders, focusing on Autism Spectrum Disorder and Tourette syndrome, as well as ADHD and concussion.   We have recently shown reduced GABA levels, as well as abnormal tactile function and children with Autism and children with Tourette syndrome, and have also shown that tactile abnormalities are linked to reduced inhibitory function in these children. My future work will focus on elucidating the inhibitory mechanisms further, using Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation in combination with MRS and tactile metrics. 


Dr. Put's focus is studying the role of GABA in neuronal processes underlying touch (tactile) processing in these children, by measuring GABA non-invasively using MRS and measuring different aspects of tactile sensitivity.

Technology Expertise Keywords

MRS, psychophysics, somatosensory cortex,

Selected Publications

View all on Pubmed

Puts, N. A., Wodka, E. L., Harris, A. D., Crocetti, D., Tommerdahl, M., Mostofsky, S. H., Edden, R. A. Reduced GABA and altered somatosensory function in children with autism spectrum disorder. Autism research,(2016). doi:10.1002/aur.1691

Puts, N. A., Edden, R. A., Evans, C. J., McGlone, F., McGonigle, D. J. Regionally specific human GABA concentration correlates with tactile discrimination thresholds. The Journal of neuroscience,(2011), 31(46), 16556-16560. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4489-11.2011.

Puts, N. A., Wodka, E. L., Tommerdahl, M., Mostofsky, S. H., Edden, R. A. Impaired tactile processing in children with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of neurophysiology,(2014a), 111(9), 1803-1811. doi:10.1152/jn.00890.2013.

Puts, N. A., Harris, A. D., Crocetti, D., Nettles, C., Singer, H. S., Tommerdahl, M., Edden, R. A., Mostofsky, S. H. Reduced GABAergic inhibition and abnormal sensory symptoms in children with Tourette syndrome. Journal of neurophysiology,(2015), 114(2), 808-817. doi:10.1152/jn.00060.2015.

Mikkelsen, M., Wodka, E. R., Mostofsky, S. H., Puts, N. A. Tactile processcing in the scope of inhibition, Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, in press.

Contact for Research Inquiries

Russell H. Morgan Department of Radiology and Radiological Science
600 N Wolfe Street
Park 367C
Baltimore, MD 21287 map
Phone: 410-614-2707
Fax: 410-502-6076

Email me

Activities & Honors


  • Extramural Funding as PI, A Multimodal Investigation of Inhibitory Dysfunction in Autism Spectrum Disorder - K99MH107719, 2016
  • Extramural Funding as PI, Measuring Altered Inhibition in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder - ASNR Research Scientist Translational Fellowship, 2016
  • Extramural Funding as PI, GABAergic inhibition in Autism Spectrum Disorder Autism Speaks Postdoctoral Translational Fellowship, 2012 - 2014
  • JASSO scholarship, Japanese Ministry of Education, 2005
  • BBSRC 3 year studentship, 2008 - 2011
  • Maximizing Impact Award (gold), School of Biosciences, Cardiff University, 2010
  • Physiological Society public communication grant, 2010
  • Most Valued Partner Award, Career Wales Cardiff & Vale Education Business partnership. With School of Biosciences., 2010
  • Graduate School Initiative grant, 2011
  • Best presentation award, Hopkins MR Research Retreat 2013, 2013
  • Best presentation award, Hopkins MR Research Retreat 2015, 2015
  • Voted co-president, Johns Hopkins Postdoctoral Association, 2013


  • International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (ISMRM), 2011


  • International Federation for Autism Research (INSAR), 2012


  • American Society for Neuroradiology (ASNR), 2015


  • Society for Neuroscience (SfN), 2008 - 2011

    Student Member

  • Human Brain Mapping (HBM), 2010

    Student Member

Videos & Media

Lectures and Presentations

  • “Edited MRS of GABA: Inhibition in functional imaging and behaviour”
    Invited Conference guest lectures, Donders Discussions, Nijmegen, Netherlands (01/01/2010)
    F.C. Donders Institute
  • “GABA MRS – Implication for perceptual learning”, in symposium “GABA spectroscopy – techniques and clinical implications”
    Invited Conference guest lectures, Berlin, Germany (01/01/2014)
    ICCN 2014
  • “Tactile function and GABA spectroscopy: What can we learn about plasticity?”
    Invited Conference guest lecture, Bochum, Germany (01/01/2014)
  • “Measuring GABA in vivo in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder”,
    Invited Conference guest lectures, Clearly Present TMS therapy consensus meeting pre-IMFAR (01/01/2016)
  • “From MRS of GABA to Cognition”
    Invited Conference guest lecture, From Molecule to Cognition-Conference, Bochum, Germany (01/01/2016)
  • “Sensory processing and altered inhibition in neurodevelopmental disorders”
    Invited Conference guest lecture, Province of Ontario Neurodevelopmental Disorders yearly meeting, Toronto, Canada (01/01/2017)
  • “GABA, inhibition in sensory processing, and developmental disorders”
    Invited Presentation, Utrecht University, Netherlands (01/01/2013)
  • “Quantification of the neurotransmitter GABA, tactile processing and Autism”
    Invited Presentation, Maastricht University, Netherlands (01/01/2013)
  • “Workshop on “GABA MRS Acquisition and analysis”
    Invited Presentation, Amsterdam University, Netherlands (01/01/2013)
  • “MRS of GABA, tactile perception, and developmental disorders”
    Invited Presentation, Cardiff University, United Kingdom (01/01/2013)
  • “GABA MRS and Somatosensory Processing Implications for Neurodevelopmental Disorders”
    Invited Presentation, Catholic University Leuven, Belgium (01/01/2015)
  • “MRS of GABA, tactile perception, and developmental disorders”,
    Invited Presentation, Tokyo, Japan (01/01/2016)
    National Institute for Radiological Science (NIRS, now QST)
  • “Investigating the role of GABA in sensory function in neurodevelopmental disorders”
    Invited Presentation, Cincinnati, USA (01/01/2016)
    Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
  • “MRS of GABA, tactile perception, and developmental disorders”
    Invited Presentation, Groningen, Netherlands (01/01/2016)
    University of Groningen
  • “MRS of GABA, tactile function, and developmental disorders”
    Invited presentation, Toronto, Canada (01/01/2017)
  • “GABA MRS workshop/A guide to GABA-edited MRS”
    Workshops, various sites including University of Groningen, University of Leuven, AMC Amsterdam, SickKids Toronto (01/01/2012)

Recent News Articles and Media Coverage

Reports new study in Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging 

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