Applying causal interventions to brain networks underlying adaptive perceptual decision-making
Dr Elizabeth Michael
University of Cambridge
Our brains are organised into a number of distinct regions, each of which is specialised to play a different role in guiding our behaviour. However, the relative influence of individual brain regions on our behaviour changes as we learn and adapt to the world around us. One challenge in studying these questions in the human brain is determining which of these many signals is causally relevant for behaviour.
I will use brain stimulation techniques to change brain activity in a controlled manner to test how behaviour changes as stimulation is applied across a number of different regions. Critically, I will also record brain activity while applying stimulation. I can then match changes in behaviour to changes in underlying brain activity. I will also be able to measure how different brain regions influence each other. For example, I will test whether our ability to ignore irrelevant information gets better with practice, which brain areas guide this learning and also how these changes are implemented.
This work will move our understanding of the brain away from the idea of it being a static computer with fixed components towards a model of dynamic interaction guided by our environment.