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Contentotopic mapping: the topographical organization of object knowledge in the brain

Objective

Our ability to recognize an object amongst many others is one of the most important features of the human mind. However, object recognition requires tremendous computational effort, as we need to solve a complex and recursive environment with ease and proficiency. This challenging feat is dependent on the implementation of an effective organization of knowledge in the brain. In ContentMAP I will put forth a novel understanding of how object knowledge is organized in the brain, by proposing that this knowledge is topographically laid out in the cortical surface according to object-related dimensions that code for different types of representational content – I will call this contentotopic mapping. To study this fine-grain topography, I will use a combination of fMRI, behavioral, and neuromodulation approaches. I will first obtain patterns of neural and cognitive similarity between objects, and from these extract object-related dimensions using a dimensionality reduction technique. I will then parametrically manipulate these dimensions with an innovative use of a visual field mapping technique, and test how functional selectivity changes across the cortical surface according to an object’s score on a target dimension. Moreover, I will test the tuning function of these contentotopic maps. Finally, to mirror the complexity of implementing a high-dimensional manifold onto a 2D cortical sheet, I will aggregate the topographies for the different dimensions into a composite map, and develop an encoding model to predict neural signatures for each object. To sum up, ContentMAP will have a dramatic impact in the cognitive sciences by describing how the stuff of concepts is represented in the brain, and providing a complete description of how fine-grain representations and functional selectivity within high-level complex processes are topographically implemented.

Field of science

  • /natural sciences/physical sciences/astronomy/planetary science/planetary geology

Call for proposal

ERC-2018-STG
See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

ERC-STG - Starting Grant

Host institution

UNIVERSIDADE DE COIMBRA
Address
Paco Das Escolas
3001 451 Coimbra
Portugal
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 1 816 004

Beneficiaries (1)

UNIVERSIDADE DE COIMBRA
Portugal
EU contribution
€ 1 816 004
Address
Paco Das Escolas
3001 451 Coimbra
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments