Course Meeting Times
Lectures: 1 session / week, 3 hours / session
We are now at an unprecedented point in the field of neuroscience: We can watch the human brain in action as it sees, thinks, decides, reads, and remembers. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is the only method that enables us to monitor local neural activity in the normal human brain in a noninvasive fashion and with good spatial resolution. A large number of far-reaching and fundamental questions about the human mind and brain can now be answered using straightforward applications of this technology. This is particularly true in the area of high-level vision, the study of how we interpret and use visual information including object recognition, mental imagery, visual attention, perceptual awareness, visually guided action, and visual memory.
The goals of this course are to help students become savvy and critical readers of the current neuroimaging literature, to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the technique, and to design their own cutting-edge, theoretically motivated studies. Students will read, present to the class, and critique recently published neuroimaging articles, as well as write detailed proposals for experiments of their own. Lectures will cover the theoretical background on some of the major areas in high-level vision, as well as an overview of what fMRI has taught us and can in future teach us about each of these topics. Lectures and discussions will also cover fMRI methods and experimental design. A prior course in statistics and at least one course in perception or cognition are required.
Farah, Martha J. Visual Agnosia. 2nd ed. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2004. ISBN: 9780262062381.
Assignments and Exams
Assignments include a written essay, a paper critique, two class presentations, a term paper and class participation. All written assignments are due at the beginning of class on the day they are due. There is a midterm.
|Two class presentations (15% each)||30%|
|WEEK #||TOPICS||KEY DATES|
|1||Introduction to fMRI and high-level vision|
Functional organization of the ventral visual pathway
Controversies concerning this organization
How to critique an fMRI paper
2 – 4 page essay due at the beginning of class
(Essay details: Read Talbot, Margaret. "Duped." New Yorker, July 2007 and then address whether and how you could test if fMRI can be used as a lie detector in the real world, what conditions would you need to test, could such an experiment actually be run, and how might you do it?)
Visual recognition, object shape, and the lateral occipital complex (LOC)
How to do a presentation
Basic neuroanatomy of the visual system
|Written critique of an fMRI paper due at the beginning of class|
Scene perception and the PPA
Face processing and the FFA
|8||The dorsal/parietal pathway: visual attention, visually guided action and number including visually guided action, number, attention, response selection, etc.||Term paper outline due in class|
|9||In second half of class (if we don't get to this topic earlier): classification methods, brain reading||Midterm|
|10||Development and effects of experience on visual and extrastriate cortex|
|11||Student presentations||Project presentations and discussion|
|12||Student presentations (cont.)||Project presentations and discussion|
In class we will have one or more guest lectures, e.g.:
|Final term papers due|