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Separating parallel threads of cognition to better explain behaviour

Project description

Thinking about how mind, brain and body interact

The human brain is a complicated information processing system. How do our brains process stimuli and information we pick up through sensory receptors all over our body? What is the neural basis of human cognition and its relation to behaviour? The EU-funded COGNITIVE THREADS project will investigate the brain process and how different components organise and relate to each other. Specifically, it will develop algorithms to automatically discover which specific aspects of the modelled brain activity are most relevant to the traits under study. The findings will shed light on how different threads of brain activity give rise to cognition. This information may be used to further explain population variability.

Objective

Our understanding of the neural basis of human cognition and its relation to behaviour is limited by the extent to which we can observe its underlying components. Neural activity elicited by a given stimulus can be decomposed in parallel threads of cognitive computation, each specialising on a different aspect of the stimulus. Conventional methods are fundamentally limited to tease apart these components within the stimulus-specific brain activity, therefore obscuring our understanding of the underlying mechanisms. I will build a framework to distil these threads by modelling their (trial-by-trial) distinct spatiotemporal trajectories and the interaction between them. Furthermore, I propose that the way our brains process stimuli, and in particular how these different components organise and relate to each other, can be critical to characterise subjects at the psychological and clinical level. However, it is unclear how to relate these complex models of stimulus processing to the subject phenotypes. I will develop principled algorithms to automatically discover which specific aspects of the modelled brain activity are most relevant to the traits under study. In summary, this multidisciplinary project brings together modelling and prediction across different data modalities to offer a novel temporal analytic account of how different threads of brain activity give rise to cognition, and how the nature of these elements relates to population variability.

I will tackle three important questions that are representative of the addressed methodological challenges: in the study of decision-making, the relation between value representation, decision-formation and attention; in sleep research, which specific aspects of the sleep cycle are most altered in insomniacs; in the field of pain perception, the disambiguation of nociception and salience, and how these diverge in chronic pain. Despite diverse, these questions are conceptually linked by ideas presented here.

Host institution

AARHUS UNIVERSITET
Net EU contribution
€ 1 490 515,00
Address
NORDRE RINGGADE 1
8000 Aarhus C
Denmark

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Region
Danmark Midtjylland Østjylland
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Links
Total cost
€ 1 490 515,00

Beneficiaries (1)