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The role of human thalamus in selective attention via novel denoising applied to magnetoencephalography

Project description

Novel method to study role of the thalamus in selective attention

The thalamus is the middle brain structure that modulates all incoming motor and sensory information, except for smell. Many underlying mechanisms are poorly understood because thalamic processes are difficult to capture with non-invasive methods. Funded by the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions programme, the ThalamicAttention project aims to investigate the role of the thalamus in attentional gain modulation using non-invasive magnetoencephalography to register brain signals in response to rhythmic auditory and visual stimulation. The research will use fast rhythmic dual visual–auditory stimulation to track attention modulation in the thalamus and the early sensory areas, the early visual and auditory cortices. Project results will lead to a better understanding of information modulation and filtration by selective attention.


The project examines the role of the thalamus in attention gain modulation by recording brain signal in response to rhythmic auditory and visual stimulation with non-invasive magnetoencephalography. The thalamus is a critical early structure modulating attention gain in the auditory and visual stream. However, underlying mechanisms are poorly understood not least because thalamic processes are extremely difficult to capture with non-invasive electrophysiological methods. Therefore, this project incorporates a significant methods development element to improve source localization to obtain superior signals especially from deep sources. I will employ fast rhythmic stimulation in a dual visual-auditory paradigm to track attention modulation especially in the thalamus, but also in early sensory areas like the retina and the early visual and auditory cortices. While thalamic impact on attention modulation within a modality is thought to be weak, I hypothesize that its structure and place within early sensory processing make it a prime candidate for selective attention modulation between different modalities - when attention selection can happen in very early processing stages. Results from this project will allow better understanding of how selective attention modulates and thus filters information across the visual stream in a more realistic multi-modal setting. In addition, the development of an improved source localization pipeline will help tap into deep cortical sources in particular and provide better source localization of non-invasive electrophysiological signals in general. Therefore, it will benefit non-invasive cognitive neuroscience (e.g. hippocampal activity), nad also clinical research (e.g. epileptic seizure zone detection). Finally, this project will provide me with exceptional means to learn from world-leading scientists at Aarhus University and the University of Lubeck and thus form an important steppingstone towards becoming an independent scientist.


Net EU contribution
€ 230 774,40
Nordre ringgade 1
8000 Aarhus c

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Danmark Midtjylland Østjylland
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00