Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Cool Studies at HBM 2007 Chicago

Day 1
Cultural Neuroscience
Thinking of culture using a top-down versus bottom-up framework. Trey Hedden (MIT) and Angela Gutchess (Harvard University)...notable speaker presentations.

Visual Field Maps, Plasticity, Reading
Discovery of retinotopic visual representation in visual cortical areas other than V1. Apparently, V2, V3, even V4 and MT have some retinotopy. Speaker session by Brian Wandell (Stanford University).

Day 2
Brain Noise
Didn't attend this one, but it seems that people are looking into neural noise as a predictor of subsequent brain activity and behavior. McIntosh was one of the speakers.

Manipulative Neuroscience
Awesome talk by Mitsuo Kawato (ATR, Kyoto). He is the brainchild of DB, humanoid robot that is able to mimic human movements by visual observation, eg drumming, juggling, dancing. The talk covered latest research about controlling robot movements through brain-computer interface as well as visual and tactile feedback.

Perceptual Decision Making
Great talks relevant to the visual discrimination project. Generally, I got ideas about how to proceed with the project in terms of possible analyses, and also the fact that others have done this before. The main question is, how does the brain make perceptual discriminations of visual information? What are the mechanisms and neural correlates? Most notable speaker for me here was Paul Sajda.

Day 3
Dual Brain Systems
Control vs Representation systems in the brain. Typically showing that the control network resides in frontal, parietal regions, and representations in the primary and secondary unimodal areas. Check out

Repetition and the Brain
Another notable symposium of talks. Kalanit Grill-Spector hosted this one. The topic is self-explanatory, but there were some main novel directions. There is distinction between repetition suppression for immediately repeated stimuli vs stimuli repeated over interspersed trials (Grill-Spector). There is an interesting finding that for interspersed trial repetition of object naming tasks, pre-op patients for removal of lateral anterior temporal poles showed normal repetition suppression of repeated objects was observed in the ventral visual areas. But after operation with temporal poles removed, suppression disappeared even in lower perceptual areas suggesting that suppression has a top-down source in this case (Rik Henson). Another contention was Grill-Spector's testing of the fatigue vs facilitation models of adaptation effects. She found evidence for fatigue rather than facilitation, but note that her design involved immediate repetition.

Day 4
Representation and Processes
Didn't attend all, but most notable for me was John-Dylan Haynes' talk on reading hidden intentions in the human brain. They used classifier algorithms on clusters of voxels in the whole brain to identify brain areas that would reliably discriminate between stimuli. This could be applied to the visual discrimination project.

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