See what you hear - Constructing a representation of the world from vision and audition

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12 October 2015

Presenter(s): Professor Uta Noppeney
Time: 13.00 -14.00
Location: NHBRU, Meeting Room 1

Abstract:

Abstract
To form a coherent percept of the environment the brain needs to integrate sensory signals from a common source and segregate those from different sources. Human observers have been shown to integrate sensory signals in line with Bayesian Causal Inference by taking into account the uncertainty about the world’s causal structure. Over the past decade, evidence has accumulated that multisensory integration is not deferred to later processing in association cortices but starts already in primary, putatively unisensory, areas. Given this multitude of multisensory integration sites, characterizing their functional similarities and differences is of critical importance.
Our research demonstrates that multisensory integration emerges in a functional hierarchy with temporal coincidence detection in primary sensory, informational integration in association and decisional interactions in prefrontal areas. Audiovisual interactions in low level sensory areas are mediated via multiple mechanisms including feedforward thalamocortical, direct connections between sensory areas and top down influences from higher order association areas.
Combining Bayesian modelling and multivariate decoding we demonstrate that the brain integrates sensory signals in line with Bayesian Causal Inference by simultaneously encoding multiple perceptual estimates along the cortical hierarchy. Critically, only at the top of the hierarchy, in anterior intraparietal sulcus, the uncertainty about the world’s causal structure is taken into account and sensory signals are combined weighted by their sensory reliability and task-relevance as predicted by Bayesian Causal Inference.


Biography
Uta Noppeney is Professor of Computational Neuroscience and director of the Computational Neuroscience and Cognitive Robotics Centre at the University of Birmingham, UK.  She received a degree in medicine (1997, Freiburg University, Germany), a doctorate in medicine (1998, Freiburg University) and a PhD in neuroscience (2004, University College London, UK). After training in neurology at the University Hospital in Aachen, she conducted neuroscience research at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, University College London. In 2005, she became research group leader at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Tübingen, Germany.
She serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Neuroscience, NeuroImage and Frontiers of Integrative Neuroscience. Her group’s research employs psychophysics, functional imaging, transcranial magnetic stimulation and patient studies to better understand how the human brain integrates sensory information into a coherent percept of the environment and how it stores and retrieves this information from memory. To gain a more informed perspective on the computational operations and neural mechanisms of information integration, the group combines functional imaging with models of Bayesian inference and learning.