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Section C

Cognitive Adaptation


A further focus is adaptation on the cognitive level, which plays a role e.g. in the attentional modulation of the cortical processing of visual information. It is a well established finding that single neuron spike rate responses are modulated by attention. However, given the highly connected network of the cortex (anatomy) and the rather weak effect of individual synapses on the postsynaptic neuron (physiology) it is unlikely that functional processes in the cortex can be understood in terms of single neuron respones. In addition, the role of the hierarchy of visual areas in attentional processes remains unresolved. While in principle attentional modulation is an ideal paradigm to study the mechanisms underlying attention, more detailed information on network activity is required in order to construct computational models of brain function. One project in this section develops the experimental protocols for electrophysiology on awake monkeys, collects the experimental data, and performs the data analysis. Structural information and controls are provided by another project by applying the same protocol to humans in fMRI and psychophysical studies. Theoretical aspects concerned with the relationships between different statistical measures obtainable from parallel spike trains, are studied in collaboration with projects from section B. Such relationships can be used to differentiate between alternative network models explaining the observed effects when only a single measure is looked at.