Title: Decoding Vision: Lessons from the Early Visual Pathway.
Garrett B. Stanley, Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University
Abstract: The external world is represented in the brain as spatiotemporal patterns of electrical activity. Sensory signals, such as light, sound, and touch, are transduced at the periphery and subsequently transformed by various stages of neural circuitry, resulting in increasingly abstract representations through the sensory pathways of the brain. It is these representations that ultimately give rise to sensory perception. Deciphering the messages conveyed in the representations is often referred to as “reading the neural code”. I will discuss a broad body of work in image reconstruction and feature decoding in the early visual pathway. Furthermore, true understanding of the neural code requires knowledge of not only the representation of the external world at one particular stage of the neural pathway, but ultimately how sensory information is communicated from the periphery to successive downstream brain structures. Our laboratory has focused on various challenges posed by this problem, some of which I will discuss. Taken together, an understanding of these complexities and others is critical for understanding how information about the outside world is acquired and communicated to downstream brain structures, in relating spatiotemporal patterns of neural activity to sensory perception, and for the development of engineered devices for replacing or augmenting sensory function lost to trauma or disease.