Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain science Unit

Cambridge, United Kingdom

Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain science Unit

Cambridge, United Kingdom
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Carlin J.D.,Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain science Unit | Calder A.J.,Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain science Unit
Current Opinion in Neurobiology | Year: 2013

Humans are highly sensitive to another's gaze direction, and use this information to support a range of social cognitive functions. Here we review recent studies that have begun to delineate a neural system for gaze perception. We focus in particular on a set of core gaze processes: perceptual coding of another's eye gaze direction, which may involve anterior superior temporal sulcus (STS); gaze-cued attentional orienting, which may be mediated by lateral parietal regions; and the experience of joint attention with another individual, which recruits medial prefrontal cortex. We conclude that understanding this gaze processing system will require a combination of multivariate pattern analysis approaches to characterise the role of individual nodes as well as connectivity-based methods to study interactions at the systems level. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.


Staresina B.P.,Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain science Unit | Cooper E.,Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain science Unit | Henson R.N.,Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain science Unit
Journal of Neuroscience | Year: 2013

A simple cue can be sufficient to elicit vivid recollection of a past episode. Theoretical models suggest that upon perceiving such a cue, disparate episodic elements held in neocortex are retrieved through hippocampal pattern completion. We tested this fundamental assumption by applying functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while objects or scenes were used to cue participants' recall of previously paired scenes or objects, respectively. We first demonstrate functional segregation within the medial temporal lobe (MTL), showing domain specificity in perirhinal and parahippocampal cortices (for object-processing vs scene-processing, respectively), but domain generality in the hippocampus (retrieval of both stimulus types). Critically, using fMRI latency analysis and dynamic causal modeling,wego on to demonstrate functional integration between theseMTLregions during successfulmemoryretrieval, with reversible signal flow from the cue region to the target region via the hippocampus. This supports the claim that the human hippocampus provides the vital associative link that integrates information held in different parts of cortex. © 2013 the authors.


Norris D.,Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain science Unit
Trends in Cognitive Sciences | Year: 2013

Reading is a complex process that draws on a remarkable number of diverse perceptual and cognitive processes. In this review, I provide an overview of computational models of reading, focussing on models of visual word recognition-how we recognise individual words. Early computational models had 'toy' lexicons, could simulate only a narrow range of phenomena, and frequently had fundamental limitations, such as being able to handle only four-letter words. The most recent models can use realistic lexicons, can simulate data from a range of tasks, and can process words of different lengths. These models are the driving force behind much of the empirical work on reading. I discuss how the data have guided model development and, importantly, I also provide guidelines to help interpret and evaluate the contribution the models make to our understanding of how we read. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.


Taylor J.S.H.,Royal Holloway, University of London | Rastle K.,Royal Holloway, University of London | Davis M.H.,Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain science Unit
NeuroImage | Year: 2014

It has been suggested that differential neural activity in imaging studies is most informative if it is independent of response time (RT) differences. However, others view RT as a behavioural index of key cognitive processes, which is likely linked to underlying neural activity. Here, we reconcile these views using the effort and engagement framework developed by Taylor, Rastle, and Davis (2013) and data from the domain of reading aloud. We propose that differences in neural engagement should be independent of RT, whereas, differences in neural effort should co-vary with RT. We illustrate these different mechanisms using data from an fMRI study of neural activity during reading aloud of regular words, irregular words, and pseudowords. In line with our proposals, activation revealed by contrasts designed to tap differences in neural engagement (e.g., words are meaningful and therefore engage semantic representations more than pseudowords) survived correction for RT, whereas activation for contrasts designed to tap differences in neural effort (e.g., it is more difficult to generate the pronunciation of pseudowords than words) correlated with RT. However, even for contrasts designed to tap neural effort, activity remained after factoring out the RT-BOLD response correlation. This may reveal unpredicted differences in neural engagement (e.g., learning phonological forms for pseudowords. >. words) that could further the development of cognitive models of reading aloud. Our framework provides a theoretically well-grounded and easily implemented method for analysing and interpreting RT effects in neuroimaging studies of cognitive processes. © 2014.


Sohoglu E.,Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain science Unit | Peelle J.E.,University of Pennsylvania | Carlyon R.P.,Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain science Unit | Davis M.H.,Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain science Unit
Journal of Neuroscience | Year: 2012

A striking feature of human perception is that our subjective experience depends not only on sensory information from the environment but also on our prior knowledge or expectations. The precise mechanisms by which sensory information and prior knowledge are integrated remain unclear, with longstanding disagreement concerning whether integration is strictly feedforward or whether higherlevel knowledge influences sensory processing through feedback connections. Here we used concurrent EEG and MEG recordings to determinehowsensory information and prior knowledge are integrated in the brain during speech perception.Wemanipulated listeners' prior knowledge of speech content by presenting matching, mismatching, or neutral written text before a degraded (noise-vocoded) spoken word. When speech conformed to prior knowledge, subjective perceptual clarity was enhanced. This enhancement in clarity was associated with a spatiotemporal profile of brain activity uniquely consistent with a feedback process: activity in the inferior frontal gyrus was modulated by prior knowledge before activity in lower-level sensory regions of the superior temporal gyrus. In parallel, we parametrically varied the level of speech degradation, and therefore the amount of sensory detail, so that changes in neural responses attributable to sensory information and prior knowledge could be directly compared. Although sensory detail and prior knowledge both enhanced speech clarity, they had an opposite influence on the evoked response in the superior temporal gyrus. We argue that these data are best explained within the framework of predictive coding in which sensory activity is compared with top-down predictions and only unexplained activity propagated through the cortical hierarchy. ©2012 the authors.


Pearson J.,University of New South Wales | Naselaris T.,Medical University of South Carolina | Holmes E.A.,Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain science Unit | Holmes E.A.,Karolinska Institutet | Kosslyn S.M.,Minerva Schools at the Keck Graduate Institute
Trends in Cognitive Sciences | Year: 2015

Mental imagery research has weathered both disbelief of the phenomenon and inherent methodological limitations. Here we review recent behavioral, brain imaging, and clinical research that has reshaped our understanding of mental imagery. Research supports the claim that visual mental imagery is a depictive internal representation that functions like a weak form of perception. Brain imaging work has demonstrated that neural representations of mental and perceptual images resemble one another as early as the primary visual cortex (V1). Activity patterns in V1 encode mental images and perceptual images via a common set of low-level depictive visual features. Recent translational and clinical research reveals the pivotal role that imagery plays in many mental disorders and suggests how clinicians can utilize imagery in treatment. Recent research suggests that visual mental imagery functions as if it were a weak form of perception.Evidence suggests overlap between visual imagery and visual working memory - those with strong imagery tend to utilize it for mnemonic performance.Brain imaging work suggests that representations of perceived stimuli and mental images resemble one another as early as V1.Imagery plays a pivotal role in many mental disorders and clinicians can utilize imagery to treat such disorders. © 2015 The Authors.


Staresina B.P.,Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain science Unit | Duncan K.D.,New York University | Davachi L.,New York University
Journal of Neuroscience | Year: 2011

How the different elements of our experiences are encoded into episodic memories has remained one of the major questions in memory research. Although the pivotal role of the medial temporal lobe as a whole for memory formation is well established, much controversy surrounds the precise contributions of the subregions in the medial temporal lobe cortex (MTLC), most notably the perirhinal cortex (PrC) and the parahippocampal cortex (PhC). Although one prominent view links PrC processes with familiarity-based memory and PhC with recollection, an alternative organizing principle is the representational domain critical for successful memory performance (e.g., object- versus scene-related information).In this functional magnetic resonance imaging study, we directly compared successful source encoding during object versus scene imagery, holding perceptual input constant across the two representational domains. Although the hippocampus contributed to associative encoding of both object and scene information, our results revealed a clear double dissociation between PrCandPhCforobject-versusscene-relatedsourceencoding.Inparticular,PrC,butnot PhC,encodingactivationpredictedlater source memory for the object imagery task, whereas PhC, but not PrC, encoding activation predicted later source memory for the scene imagery task. Interestingly, the transitional zone between PrC and posterior PhC contributed to both object and scene source encoding, possibly reflectinga gradient in domain preference along MTLC.In sum, these results strongly point to representational domain asa key factor determining the involvement of different MTLC subregions during successful episodic memory formation. © 2011 the authors.


Wass S.V.,Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain science Unit
Child Neuropsychology | Year: 2015

Developmental psychopathology is increasingly recognizing the importance of distinguishing causal processes (i.e., the mechanisms that cause a disease) from developmental outcomes (i.e., the symptoms of the disorder as it is eventually diagnosed). Targeting causal processes early in disordered development may be more effective than waiting until outcomes are established and then trying to reverse the pathogenic process. In this review, I evaluate evidence suggesting that neural and behavioral plasticity may be greatest at very early stages of development. I also describe correlational evidence suggesting that, across a number of conditions, early emerging individual differences in attentional control and working memory may play a role in mediating later-developing differences in academic and other forms of learning. I review the currently small number of studies that applied direct and indirect cognitive training targeted at young individuals and discuss methodological challenges associated with targeting this age group. I also discuss a number of ways in which early, targeted cognitive training may be used to help us understand the developmental mechanisms subserving typical and atypical cognitive development. © 2014 The Author(s). Published by Taylor & Francis.


Dalgleish T.,Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain science Unit | Werner-Seidler A.,Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain science Unit
Trends in Cognitive Sciences | Year: 2014

Depression is characterized by distinct profiles of disturbance in ways autobiographical memories are represented, recalled, and maintained. We review four core domains of difficulty: systematic biases in favor of negative material; impoverished access and responses to positive memories; reduced access to the specific details of the personal past; and dysfunctional processes of rumination and avoidance around personal autobiographical material. These difficulties drive the onset and maintenance of depression; consequently, interventions targeted at these maladaptive processes have clinical potential. Memory therapeutics is the development of novel clinical techniques, translated from basic research, that target memory difficulties in those with emotional disorders. We discuss prototypical examples from this clinical domain including MEmory Specificity Training, positive memory elaboration, memory rescripting, and the method-of-loci (MoL). © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.


Wass S.V.,Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain science Unit
Infant Behavior and Development | Year: 2014

Convergent research points to the importance of studying the ontogenesis of sustained attention during the early years of life, but little research hitherto has compared and contrasted different techniques available for measuring sustained attention. Here, we compare methods that have been used to assess one parameter of sustained attention, namely infants' peak look duration to novel stimuli. Our focus was to assess whether individual differences in peak look duration are stable across different measurement techniques. In a single cohort of 42 typically developing 11-month-old infants we assessed peak look duration using six different measurement paradigms (four screen-based, two naturalistic). Zero-order correlations suggested that individual differences in peak look duration were stable across all four screen-based paradigms, but no correlations were found between peak look durations observed on the screen-based and the naturalistic paradigms. A factor analysis conducted on the dependent variable of peak look duration identified two factors. All four screen-based tasks loaded onto the first factor, but the two naturalistic tasks did not relate, and mapped onto a different factor. Our results question how individual differences observed on screen-based tasks manifest in more ecologically valid contexts. © 2014 The Authors.

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