MAR 14, 2018 10:30 AM PDT

Investigating the Locus of Conscious Sensory Experience in the Brain

Presented at: Neuroscience 2018
Speaker
  • Post-Doctoral Research Scientist, University of California, Los Angeles
    Biography
      Brian Odegaard received his Ph.D. in behavioral neuroscience in 2015 at UCLA, having applied Bayesian computational models to investigate how selective attention, sensory recalibration, and spatial biases influence multisensory processing. Upon finishing his doctoral work, he became a post-doctoral researcher in the Consciousness and Metacognition laboratory at UCLA under the guidance of Dr. Hakwan Lau, and he currently holds a secondary affiliation as a visiting researcher in the Department of Decoded Neurofeedback at the Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International in Kyoto, Japan, under the supervision of Dr. Kazuhisa Shibata and Dr. Mitsuo Kawato.

      His current research program uses a combination of behavior, computational modeling, machine learning, neurophysiology, and neuroimaging methods to understand high-level sensory processes. His recent work has focused on three main areas: (1) combining rigorous psychophysics with primate neurophysiology to decode neural signatures of perceptual confidence in several brain regions of interest; (2) applying decoded neurofeedback techniques with perceptual illusions to probe the neuroanatomical locus of perceptual consciousness; (3) Using computational models to better understand the principles underlying sensory integration. His goal is to develop an interdisciplinary approach to answer important questions about perceptual metacognition, attention, integration, peripheral vision, and consciousness.

    Abstract

    Is sensory awareness facilitated by activity in only sensory cortices? For several decades, this has been the dominant viewpoint among many prominent voices in both neuroscience and philosophy.  In this talk, I will review recent work which shows how many of the components of perceptual decision-making, including confidence, integration, and content, are all at least partially facilitated by brain regions outside early sensory areas.  Drawing upon results from psychophysical, computational, neuroimaging and neurophysiological work, I will show that far from being irrelevant for perceptual experiences, frontal regions of the brain actually contain rich representations of perceptual content, and that decision-related processes and circuitry play a key role in metacognitive judgments and sensory awareness.  These new results shed light on current debates about the locus of conscious perceptual experience, and open exciting new possibilities for probing this question going forward.


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