PNI Faculty Search Seminars

Rachel Denison, New York University
"The dynamics of temporal attention"

Selection is the hallmark of attention: processing improves for attended items but is relatively impaired for unattended items. It is well known that visual spatial attention changes sensory signals and perception in this selective fashion. In the work I will present, we asked whether and how attentional selection happens across time. First, our experiments revealed that voluntary temporal attention (attention to specific points in time) is selective, resulting in perceptual tradeoffs across time. Second, we measured small eye movements called microsaccades and found that directing voluntary temporal attention increases the stability of the eyes in anticipation of an attended stimulus. Third, we developed a computational model of dynamic attention, which proposes specific mechanisms underlying temporal attention and its selectivity. Lastly, I will mention how we are currently testing predictions of the model with MEG. Altogether, this research shows how precisely timed voluntary attention helps manage inherent limits in visual processing across short time intervals, advancing our understanding of attention as a dynamic process.

Jiefeng Jiang, Stanford University
"Controlling control through learning and prediction"

Cognitive control supports intentional behavior by aligning neural information processing with internal goals. A key feature of cognitive control is its flexible self-adjustment based on the demand in the environment. However, little is known about the neural and computational mechanisms supporting this flexibility, or in other words, how cognitive control controls itself. In this talk, I will present a series of studies trying to answer this question from the perspective of learning and memory. I will also present my future research plan that extends this line of research to investigate how humans learn and perform complex tasks.

Jesse Gomez, University of California Berkeley
"Human visual cortex as a window into the developing brain"

The development of the human brain is the most protracted of any species, making childhood experience an integral factor in sculpting the neural hardware that will support behavior in adulthood. Despite its importance, the period of time separating birth from adolescence remains glaringly understudied in human neuroscience. I will discuss a series of multimodal experiments focused on human visual cortex as a testbed for understanding how the brain develops. Mapping receptive fields in children for the first time, I will demonstrate that the brain’s “window” to the visual world grows from childhood to adulthood, and that the way we look at the world in our childhood impacts how information is pooled cortex. In another experiment using participants with unique visual experience in childhood, we’ll also find that the way stimuli are viewed may even determine the organization of visual cortex itself.  I’ll also discuss implementing quantitative MRI to study the anatomical development that occurs within visual cortex, not only overturning previous notions about how neural structures develop in humans, but establishing a bridge linking development of brain tissue to behavior. These experiments deeply expand our understanding of the origins of the visual brain and reveal that development is a powerful lens through which to understand cognitive neuroscience more generally. 
Tuesday, January 22, 2019 - 10:00am to Wednesday, January 23, 2019 - 9:45am
A32 PNI Lecture Hall
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