Neuronal Mechanisms of Attention
The phrase “visual attention” captures a broad range of phenomena. Most people consider visual attention to be an active cognitive process. When we study visual attention in the laboratory, we mainly study covert visual spatial attention, or the allocation of attention to a particular region of visual space that is away from the center of gaze. We design visual attention tasks that involve shifts in the locus of covert spatial attention on different trials.
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Functional Role of Corticogeniculate Feedback in Vision
In mammals, all conscious visual information traverses a path from the retina through the visual thalamus (called the lateral geniculate nucleus or LGN) to the primary visual cortex (V1). Accordingly, in just a handful of synapses and in about 50 milliseconds, information about a visual stimulus in the world can reach the cortex. In highly visual mammals such as humans, visual information traversing this path is segregated into three parallel processing streams. By separating out visual information that is most relevant for processing motion, form/acuity, and color, signals can be relayed in parallel for increased processing speed.
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Neuroanatomy is the foundation of modern neuroscience. Recent technical innovations have made it possible to reconstruct large numbers of neurons in order to gather “high throughput” information about the different morphological cell types in the brain. One of the overarching goals of my research is to link structure and function in the visual system.
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