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Dynamic coding for flexible cognition

Our environment is in constant flux. At any given moment there could be a shift in scenario that demands an equally rapid shift in how we interpret the world around us. For example, the meaning of a simple traffic light critically depends on whether you are driving to work or travelling on foot. Our brains must constantly adapt to accommodate an enormous range of such possible scenarios.

This research explores how prefrontal cortex rapidly establishes temporary goal-direct coding schemes. Dynamic population coding is essential for flexible cognition and adaptive behaviour. Recently, we applied new analysis tools to explore how patterns of brain activity change for different task contexts, allowing for flexible cognitive processing (in Stokes et al., 2013, Neuron; see also Comment by Miller and Fusi in the same issue and BrainBox Research Briefing). We are currently developing new methods to determine the fundamental neural mechanism for dynamic coding.

Investigators: Mark Stokes, Eelke Spaak
Collaborators: John Duncan, Kei Watanabe, Timothy Buschman, Nikolai Axmacher

Funding: James S. McDonnell Foundation Scholar Award