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Long-range brain connectivity during active visual behavior


To fully understand brain function, we need to understand how distinct brain areas communicate, and how their communication is flexibly modulated to enable behavior. One of the major current theories about brain communication was proposes that effective communication between distinct brain areas is mechanistically implemented by synchronizing their neural activity. In other words, neuronal groups should communicate more effectively if their optimal time windows for input and for output are synchronized by coherent oscillations. However, it is unknown whether such mechanisms could operate at the timescale of natural behavior. Under most situations, our eyes are moving about four times per second, scanning the environment for relevant information. This scanning process, ensures that this relevant visual information -such as the next word in this sentence - are constantly brought to the center of the visual field (i.e. fovea), where visual resolution in the retina is highest. Therefore, visual inputs at each new eye position have to be processed, and transmitted to higher brain areas, every 250ms. The aim of this project is to investigate how neural communication operates under these conditions. To this end, I will use a free-gaze visual search task in four complementary experimental approaches. Two studies will be carried out at the Institute of Biosciences - USP, and the other two at the Ernst Strüngmann Institute for Neuroscience in Cooperation with the Max Planck Society in Frankfurt, as part of the international collaboration. The first study aims to investigate the behavioral benefits of perceptual selection mechanisms during active visual behavior. In the second study, I will use electroencephalogram (EEG) to unveil, for the first time in human subjects, the brain signature of such perceptual selection mechanism. The third study, done as part of the collaboration with the ESI in Frankfurt, will use a novel intracranial recording technique in rhesus monkeys that will enables the simultaneous observation of neuronal activity across multiple brain regions; from early visual sensory (V1), to higher visual (V4) and prefrontal control areas such as Frontal Eye Fields (FEF). This unprecedented brain coverage will allow me to assess neuronal interactions on this large-scale neural network, known to be involved in perceptual selection. Study 4 investigate long range brain connectivity in humans, and extend the findings from Study 3 to other brain areas. To achieve this, we will record whole-brain magnetoencephalography (MEG) and function magnetic resonance (fMRI) in human participants. This complementary approach increases the spatial and temporal resolution of whole-brain analysis, producing reliable connectivity maps using non-invasive techniques. Together, the findings from this project will help us understand the mechanism perceptual selection and brain communication during natural visual behavior. Finally, by comparing the results from human and non-human primate experiments, this project will also help bridge the gap between invasive and non-invasive physiological research. (AU)

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Scientific publications
(References retrieved automatically from Web of Science and SciELO through information on FAPESP grants and their corresponding numbers as mentioned in the publications by the authors)
JENDRITZA, PATRICK; KLEIN, FREDERIKE J.; ROHENKOHL, GUSTAVO; FRIES, PASCAL. Visual neuroscience methods for marmosets: efficient receptive field mapping and head-free eye tracking. ENEURO, v. 8, n. 3, . (17/10429-5, 18/16635-9)

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