Charles D. Gilbert

The Rockefeller University

Primary Section: 28, Systems Neuroscience
Secondary Section: 24, Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
Membership Type:
Member (elected 2006)

Photo Credit: The Rockefeller University

Research Interests

I study the cortical mechanisms of visual perception, including the role of visual cortex in analyzing visual images and in perceptual learning. My lab has found that primary visual cortex performs a high-level analysis of the visual scene, mediating contour integration and surface segmentation. We have shown how the functional properties of visual cortex are subject to learning, and how, with training, the cortex encodes information about complex stimulus configurations. To study the mechanisms of cortical information processing, we have focused on cortical circuitry. This led to our discovery of long range horizontal connections in cortex, and their role in integrating the visual image, as well as in cortical plasticity. We study the influence of experience in remodeling cortical circuits, including perceptual learning and functional recovery following central nervous system damage. We are also investigating the molecular mechanisms involved in this remodeling. Another emphasis of our work is the role of higher order influences in early sensory processing. We have shown that the cortex continually changes its functional role according to the influence of attention, expectation and perceptual task. This suggests that the properties of any cortical area, even in adults, are dynamic, being subject to experience and to top-down influences.

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