Research

 

Background

Any perceptual or cognitive process activates many areas of the cerebral cortex. The neurons in these areas have to co-ordinate their activity and exchange information, but little is known about the mechanisms that are responsible for this information exchange. We aim to understand how different areas of the cortex co-ordinate their activity during perception and cognition. 

We want to understand perceptual grouping. How does the brain code the elements in a visual scene that belong to the same object? 

We found that different psychological processing stages, like feature extraction, figure-ground segregation and visual attention are reflected by activity in area V1, and associated with changes in the activity of neurons in area V1, although at different times (Roelfsema et al. 2007) (Movie).


Projects

We aim to get a better insight in how different cortical areas collaborate during a cognitive task. Modern theories do not attribute our ability to ‘interpret’, ‘attend’ or to ‘make decisions’ to single neurons or even to single cortical areas, but rather to networks of neurons that are distributed across many cortical and sub-cortical regions. Therefore, a central question for cognitive neuroscience has become how these cognitive networks operate: how do the neurons in all these brain regions coordinate their activity? What goes wrong in the interactions if this coordination fails, as happens for example during the psychological refractory period (PRP)? We approach these questions from a combined neurophysiological, psychological and computational perspective. In other words, we do neurophysiology experiments.


Project 1

Interactions between area V1 and the frontal eye fields

 

Project 2

Investigates the role of the different cortical layers, known to be interconnected in different ways with higher and lower areas. 

 

Project 3

Aims to make a link to more molecular work by investigating the type of receptors that are involved in the exchange of information between different cortical areas. We test the involvement of various types of glutamate receptors in feedforward, lateral and feedback processing.