Robert Desimone

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Primary Section: 28, Systems Neuroscience
Membership Type: Member (elected 1999)

Research Interests

The overall goal of my research has been to understand the neurobiological basis of memory and attention, particularly in the visual modality. To that end, I have helped map areas in the cerebral cortex that play a role in the visual recognition of objects and then studied how the activity of neurons in these areas change while animals are engaged in tasks that tax both their memory and attention. My coworkers and I have identified some of the different neural mechanisms that bias competitive interactions in favor of behaviorally relevant stimuli. As a result of these competitive biases, the neural representations of irrelevant stimuli are suppressed, allowing relevant stimuli to be fully processed and stored in memory. Most recently, we have been studying these same problems using functional brain imaging in humans and have so far identified many of the same mechanisms that operate in animals.

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