Thomas D. Albright
Salk Institute for Biological Studies
Election Year: 2008
Primary Section: 28, Systems Neuroscience
Secondary Section: 52, Psychological and Cognitive Sciences
Membership Type: Member
I am in interested in understanding the neuronal structures and events that underlie visual perception, visual memory and visually-guided behaviors. Light reflected off of environmental objects and surfaces is cast as complex dynamic images upon the retina. Much is now known about how features of these retinal images are detected and represented by the activity of neurons in the primate cerebral cortex. My lab focuses on how these image features are integrated to form a perceptual whole, and on the ways in which sensory and behavioral context enable the observer to recover the specific environmental causes of the retinal image. To achieve these goals, we use behavioral assays of perceptual experience in humans and non-human primates, in combination with physiological recording of evoked activity from individual neurons and computational modeling of neuronal function. The neural substrates for visual motion perception have served as a convenient model system for these analyses, but our findings address general principles of sensory processing. Using this system, we have recently discovered that visual perception and visual imagery are mediated by common patterns of neuronal activity in the cerebral cortex. More generally, my work is characterized by an effort to understand how the visual system operates under sensory conditions and behavioral demands that approximate the richness of normal perceptual experience.