Chris Eliasmith, Director of the Centre for Theoretical Neuroscience, received the prestigious John C. Polanyi Award and is also an inaugural member of the Royal Society of Canada's College of New Scholars, Artists, and Scientists.
Perception and Attention in Memory Systems
Research in cognitive neuroscience has traditionally progressed by studying different components of cognition largely in isolation. But, ultimately, complex behavior is the result of the interplay between multiple aspects of cognition at the behavioral and the neural levels. With a combination of behavioral, neuroimaging (fMRI) and patient studies, I’ll argue that the computations performed by brain regions allow them to critically and flexibly support many different aspects of cognition, from attention to perception to long-term memory. In the first part of my talk, I’ll show that at a behavioral level, perception shares functional commonalities with long-term memory, and traditional memory systems of the brain play a critical role in perception. In the second part of my talk, I’ll show that attention modulates these “memory systems”, and that this modulation has consequences for attentional and mnemonic behavior. Together, my research points to the utility of understanding the brain and behavior by thinking about the mechanisms that allow any given brain region to flexibly contribute to diverse aspects of cognition.
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