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Bayesian computations in the human neocortex: deciphering the neuronal mechanisms of perceptual and syntactic inferences.

Objective

The diversity of human cognitive abilities contrasts with the homogeneity of its neural bases. Indeed, perception, decision and language processes largely rely on a common neuronal structure – the neocortex – whose functioning remains remarkably poorly understood. Recent theories suggest that the six layers of the neocortical microcircuit are specifically interconnected to perform generic computations, thanks to a Bayesian hierarchical combination of top-down expectations (priors) and bottom-up sensory information (likelihoods). However, recording each cortical layer is technically challenging. Mainly limited to animal electrophysiology, the rare empirical investigations of neocortical operations have been incapable of tackling human-specific cognitive abilities, such as syntax processing. Capitalizing on recent advances in human electrophysiology, I will address these challenges by testing whether the elements of Bayesian computations are implemented by 1) distinct cortical layers (e.g. priors in layers 5/6) or, alternatively, 2) distinct neuronal oscillations (e.g. priors in the alpha/beta band). I will then assess whether these neuronal computations form the elementary components of syntax processing. To characterize the exchange of information within and between cortical regions, I will combine whole-brain magnetoencephalography of with invasive electrocorticography and intra-laminar recordings, acquired from patients implanted for clinical purposes. This project, at the intersection of neuroscience, computational theory and linguistics will set the foundations for a mechanistic investigation of human cognition at an unprecedented level of detail, and will therefore allow me to start a competitive scientific career as an independent researcher. Ultimately, this innovative framework will help us understand the building blocks of human cognition, and the way neocortical dysfunctions lead to complex mental disorders such as schizophrenia.

Field of science

  • /medical and health sciences/health sciences/public and environmental health
  • /medical and health sciences/clinical medicine/psychiatry/schizophrenia
  • /natural sciences/biological sciences/neurobiology/cognitive neuroscience
  • /natural sciences/computer and information sciences/artificial intelligence/computational intelligence
  • /humanities/languages and literature/linguistics

Call for proposal

H2020-MSCA-IF-2014
See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

MSCA-IF-GF - Global Fellowships

Coordinator

STIFTUNG FRANKFURT INSTITUTE FOR ADVANCED STUDIES
Address
Ruth Moufang Strasse 1
60438 Frankfurt Am Main
Germany
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 257 860,80

Participants (1)

MAX-PLANCK-GESELLSCHAFT ZUR FORDERUNG DER WISSENSCHAFTEN EV

Participation ended

Germany
EU contribution
€ 0
Address
Hofgartenstrasse 8
80539 Muenchen
Activity type
Research Organisations

Partners (1)

NEW YORK UNIVERSITY
United States
Address
70 Washington Square South
10003 1526 New York
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments