Cortical Dynamics


March 22, 2016 - 12:00pm
Northwest 243
About the Speaker
Charles Gilbert (Rockefeller)

Vision is an active and dynamic process. The brain’s analysis of scenes involves perceptual grouping, perceptual learning and top-down influences. Information conveyed in a top-down fashion includes attention, expectation, perceptual tasks, working memory and motor commands. As a consequence neurons function as adaptive processors that are able to assume different functional states according to the task being executed, and these dynamics are mediated by rapid changes in effective connectivity within the cortical network. Moreover, all cortical levels of sensory processing are capable of undergoing long term experience dependent functional changes, with rapid and massive modification of cortical connections, involving exuberant outgrowth of new axon collaterals and a parallel process of pruning of both existing and newly grown axon collaterals. The circuitry of the adult cortex therefore is under a continual long term process of modification as we assimilate new experiences, and short term dynamics as we analyze the constituents of visual scenes.