Laboratory of Vislab

  • An influential notion in neuroscience is that the characterization of response properties of single cells is fundamental for understanding cognitive processes. In the visual system, the finding that responses are generally specific and selective to particular attributes of an object has led to the idea that neurons actually behave as detectors capable of extracting information from the outside world. According to this view, perception would be the result of encoding multiple elementary features through a modular analysis that is both parallel and hierarchical.

    Viewing the functional organization of the brain as a collection of individual cells, each performing some kind of feature extraction, belittles, however, the fact that the brain is a highly interconnected structure both within and between processing modules. A more appropriate level of description is to consider cooperative phenomena at the population level. From this perspective, the study of time dependencies in the activity between cells is of considerable interest. A number of investigations from our group and others have shown that neuronal interactions in the visual cortex exhibit high temporal precision in the millisecond range. Neurons firing in synchrony are thought to form transient ensembles of spatially distributed cells, relevant for dynamic integration of signals.

    Our work includes methods for studying neuronal interactions during visual perception. In particular we are interested in assessing the role of neuronal synchronization in dynamical binding of features in early visual areas, mechanisms of attention and temporal expectation, and also mechanisms of visuomotor integration and motor planning in the prefrontal cortex. These experiments may contribute to a better understanding of visual cortical processing and the development of an effective visual prosthesis for the blind.


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