ESRC Overseas Institutional Visit Award to Nora Roüast

Congratulations to Nora Roüast for securing an award from the ESRC to go on an Overseas Institutional Visit to Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden. Nora will spend three months working with Prof Emily Holmes on a project aimed at alleviating traumatic memories in refugees. The treatment implements a practical application of Nora’s doctoral research in cognitive neuroscience in combination with psychiatric approaches. We are wishing Nora best of luck in Sweden!

 

 

 

Congratulations to Doctored Wildegger

Congratulations to Theresa Wildegger for passing her doctoral viva voce examination in flying colours, with Martin Eimer (external) and Mark Stokes (internal) as examiners. Theresa’s thesis used MEG to compare oscillatory mechanisms supporting spatial and feature-based attention in the human brain, and examined the role of stimulus visibility in influencing attention in working memory. Theresa has moved to a postdoctoral position with Nilli Lavie at UCL. We will miss her and we wish her all the best.

TWildegger

Josh Chauvin joins efforts to remove mental health from out of the shadows

As part of his commitment to mental health awareness building efforts here in Oxford and abroad, Josh presented It Gets Brighter to leaders from around the world at an Innovation Fair hosted by the World Health Organisation in Washington, DC. It Gets Brighter is devoted to sharing video messages of hope to young people struggling with mental health difficulties. The campaign is supported by a team based in Oxford, including members affiliated with EP such as Brianna Doherty, Daniel Morris, and Emma Lawrance. A German version (www.itgetsbrighter.de) is now managed by recent graduates Dr. Belinda Weber and Dr. Vanessa Johnen, who are based at LMU.

Josh also took part as a Rapporteur for the World Bank Group, at the high-level event “Out of the Shadows: Making Mental Health a Global Development Priority” in April. Check out the published report that he contributed to here to learn more about how mental health is becoming a global priority.

JoshPresenting

We Are Stunned by Brexit.

The Brain & Cognition lab prides itself in being an international lab, bringing together outstanding young scientists to puzzle over the workings of the human mind and brain, and to apply scientific understanding to improve diagnosis and treatment of brain-related disorders. We are well placed to know that humans aren’t always rational beings, but the degree of irrationality last week has shocked even us. We remain proud of being a united lab with members representing many European nations, as well as people from further afield, working harmoniously together.

Flags

Brain Travel Award to Myers

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Congratulations to Nick Myers for securing an award from the Guarantors of Brain to present his research at the upcoming meeting of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society in New York in April. Nick will be presenting a recent fMRI/MEG study investigating the neural underpinnings of dynamic updating of working memory contents.

Magnetising OHBA

OHBA’s brand new state-of-the-art 3T MRI scanner arrives (wrapped in pink!) and is installed in its new home with laser sharp precision. The MRI at OHBA will complement the imaging resources at FMRIB to host translational and clinical research into psychiatric and neurological disorders. We are suitably galvanised and raring to research!

More information at: http://www.psych.ox.ac.uk/news/ohba-scanner-arrives

OHBA Unveiled

 

The OHBA contingent was quite surprised when the building was unwrapped last week to show it in full glorious Yellow! A happy colour to host amazing science. And now for the arrival of the MRI scanner.

For more information about OHBA please visit:

OHBA Yellow

Hot Off the Press: Testing sensory evidence against mnemonic templates

elife_final_logo_rgbElife Article Nick

In a new study, published today in eLife (Click Here) we investigated how visual search templates are reactivated to act as input filters for target detection.

How the brain represents an internal template of the target of your search (the keys, in this example) has been a much-debated topic in neuroscience for the past 30 years. Previous research has indicated that neurons specialized for detecting the sought-after object when it is in view are also pre-activated when we are seeking it. This would mean that these ‘template’ neurons are active the entire time that we are searching.

We recorded brain activity from human volunteers using a non-invasive technique called magnetoencephalography (MEG) as they tried to detect when a particular shape appeared on a computer screen. The patterns of brain activity could be analyzed to identify the template that observers had in mind, and to trace when it became active. This revealed that the template was only activated around the time when a target was likely to appear, after which the activation pattern quickly subsided again.

The brief activation of the template suggests templates may come online mainly to filter new sensory evidence to detect targets. This mechanism could be advantageous because it lowers the amount of neural activity (and hence energy) needed for the task. However, these findings need to be replicated using other methods and task settings to confirm whether the brain generally uses templates in this way. For instance, we would like to know more about where in the brain such a filter may be set up.

Double dipping for Myers

Double congratulations are due to Nick Myers.

Nick successfully defended his doctoral thesis on “The Role of Cortical Oscillations in the Control and Protection of Visual Working Memory.” His doctoral research combined psychophysics, MEG, EEG, and fMRI to investigate the dynamic nature of working-memory representations and their regulation by top-down factors and by ongoing variability in neural excitability. Nick was co-supervised by Kia Nobre and Mark Stokes, and was examined by heavy-weights Ole Jensen (external examiner, Donders Institute) and Masud Husain (internal examiner). A good time was had by all.

nick viva

univ college london

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soon after his viva success Nick secured a JRF position at University College in Oxford. He will use this prestigious position to investigate how dynamic state-dependent networks can support attention and working memory. We congratulate him with a great sigh of relief that he will be staying around to enrich research at Oxford.

Viva de Freitas!

Julian VIVA

Congratulations to Julian de Freitas for passing his viva voce examination with David Burr (Pisa) and Oliver Braddick (Oxford) to complete his MSc by Research.

Julian’s thesis investigated our ability to track features of moving objects through occlusion. His findings are now also described in a manuscript in press in the Journal of Vision. Julian is currently completing his doctoral degree with George Alvarez at Harvard Psychology.

Hot off the press: WM Templates go Dynamic

Nick Myers leads our new study now available online at eLife, which uses multivariate decoding methods in M/EEG to reveal dynamics in working-memory templates guiding perceptual decision making. Our findings show there is more to top-down WM biases than tonic delay activity. Do you agree?

Establishing Murray Down Under

cdu-masterlogo-2
Congratulations to Alexandra Murray (B&C DPhil 2012) on her new position at Charles Darwin University. Alexandra will be applying her talents and good sense to help evaluate the research strategy, programs, and  training at this research intensive university in Australia’s Northern Territory.

 

OHBA to lead JSMF Collaborative Network on Oscillations

oscillationsThe James S McDonnell Foundation has granted OHBA an award to lead collaborative network of five world-leading groups interested in getting to the bottom of how oscillations contribute to neuronal computation to support perception and cognition. The group leaders include Kia Nobre (OHBA), Ole Jensen (Donders), Sabine Kastner (Princeton), Bob Knight (Berkeley), and Charlie Schroeder (Columbia and NKI). Research fellows in the collaboration so far are Nick Myers (OHBA, co-applicant), Anne Martin (Princeton), and Anna Jafarpour (Berkeley). The groups will bring together their various theoretical and methodological approaches and experimentation at multiple levels of organization to derive principles about the mechanisms and functional contributions of oscillations.

Hot off the press: Forgetful Attention in Older Adults

cortexIn our new study just published in Cortex lead by Gerardo Salvato, we show that the ability to orient attention based on long-term memories is preserved in older adults despite their explicit memories being significantly impaired. This is great news for those of us worrying that our declining memories could also be affecting the very first stages of our perception. We feel the results also have interesting implications for understanding the nature of memory representations serving different purposes in the brain. We’d be interested in hearing your views.
                                                                                                                            The paper is freely available on:

 

Establishing O’Reilly

Dr Jill O'Reilly

Congratulations to Dr Jill O’Reilly (B&C 2007 DPhil) in becoming the newest faculty member of the Department of Experimental Psychology at Oxford. Jill is interested in using a computational approach to bridge between neural mechanisms and behavioural performance in cognitive tasks.

 

Kia on Cambridge TV

Kia Cambridge TV

Kia talks to science communicator Ginny Smith at ‘the other place’ about what inspired her to become a scientist and on the nature of attention. Check out these lovely video programmes looking at Women in STEM  (Kia at 4m30) and all different aspects of Consciousness http://www.cambridge-tv.co.uk/Consciousness/ (Kia at 15m30).

Welcome to Ryszard Auksztulewicz

Ryszard1Ryszard joins OHBA and the Brain & Cognition Lab as a postdoctoral research fellow from the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging (previously known as the FIL), where he was working with Karl Friston. He was trained at the Berlin School of Brain and Mind (supervised by Felix Blankenburg and Peter Frensch). Ryszard is interested in temporal (and other expectations), and will be helping us understand the relationship between models of attention and predictive coding  (and DCM) in understanding expectations. We look forward to some steep learning curves.

http://www.ohba.ox.ac.uk/news/welcome-to-ryszard-auksztulewicz

Welcome to our new graduate students Nora Rouast and Kate Nussenbaum

Kate_0005057Nora Roüast   MSc Student

We are delighted to kick off the new academic year with Nora Rouast and Kate Nussenbaum on board. We have already had the privilege of Nora’s presence during her MSc, and she now progresses onto her doctoral adventures. Nora is interested in the interplay between long-term memory and attention. Kate joins us as a Rhodes Scholar from Brown. She is interested in using real-time neurofeedback to regulate attention and memory functions. Both students will be co-supervised by Professors Kia Nobre and Mark Stokes.

Viva Iyadurai!

Lalitha Lyadurai  DPhil Student

Congratulations to Lali Iyadurai on completing an amazing thesis in which she successfully managed to take an imagery-based intervention designed to suppress traumatic flashbacks based on theoretical models and laboratory research into the real world of the Emergency Service to help reduce traumatic imagery in individuals involved in road accidents. Lali was supervised by Professors Emily Holmes, John Geddes, and Kia Nobre.  Luckily for Oxford, Lali will be joining the Sleep & Circadian Neuroscience Institute as a postdoctoral fellow to investigate the role of sleep in these interventions. We send her along on her trail-blazing path!

OHBA Upgrade Starts

ohba constructionOxford Centre for Human Brain Activity
OHBA members disperse for that highly productive period without data collection as construction kicks off for our upgrade.
Rendez vous back at New-OHBA next Spring!

Congratulations to Kia Nobre Newly Elected Fellow of the British Academy

PROF. KIA NOBRE

britishacademylogo

Congratulations to Kia Nobre, Director, Oxford Centre for Human Brain Activity (OHBA), Professor of Translational Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Oxford, who has now been elected as a Fellow of the British Academy for the Humanities and Social Sciences.

http://www.britac.ac.uk/news/news.cfm/newsid/1292

Mobility to Marcel Niklaus

Marcel_NiklausGreat news that Marcel Niklaus, doctoral student at the University of Zurich supervised by Klaus Oberauer, has been granted a Mobility Award to come join the Brain & Cognition Lab for a research exchange. Marcel will spend seven months with us from August, during which time he hopes to investigate the consequences of feature based attention in working memory. We look forward to having him join us soon!

Welcome Sammi Chekroud

Sammi Chekroud Research Student

We Welcome Sammi Chekroud who will be working with us as a research assistant on Kia’s Senior Investigator Award. Sammi has completed his final year research project in the lab so all sides know what they are in for. And, we’re looking forward to it.

B&C Instigated Nanosymposium to Feature in SFN2015

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We are delighted that the nanosymposium we proposed will feature at SFN 2015. The nano will explore the “Influence of Memory on Perception,” and will bring together numerous labs working on this fundamental but oft-neglected area of cognition from a variety of perspectives. We hope to see you in Chicago!

Congratulations to Kia Nobre Newly Elected Fellow of the British Academy

PROF. KIA NOBRE

britishacademylogo

Congratulations to Kia Nobre, Director, Oxford Centre for Human Brain Activity (OHBA), Professor of Translational Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Oxford, who has now been elected as a Fellow of the British Academy for the Humanities and Social Sciences.

http://www.britac.ac.uk/news/news.cfm/newsid/1292

Hot off the Press: Dynamic Modulation of Working Memory Contents

new pic working memory

Finally, the tour-de-force study on attentional modulation in working memory led by George Wallis (B&C DPhil 2014) is live in early access form in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience. In this study, we used MEG to characterize the spatiotemporal dynamics of cortical activity during top-down control of working memory (WM). We charted the relative timing of the frontoparietal and the cingulo-opercular networks during shifts of spatial attention within working memory and measured the modulatory consequences on posterior sensory area. To our initial surprise, modulation was transient and dynamic in nature, prompting some updating of standard models of selective working memory maintenance. We hope that some of you will want to know more. We’d be keen to know what you think.

http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1162/jocn_a_00838#.VYCyR2CDlgJ

Kia joins Memory Disorders Research Society (MDRS)

MDRS

Kia is delighted to have been elected as a member of the Memory Disorders Research Society. She will be joining the super-star international community of cognitive and behavioural neuroscientists interested in memory, which has been meeting since the founding of the society by Laird Cermak, in 1989. Her debut will take place at this year’s meeting in Cambridge, where she will contribute to the symposium organised by Brad Postle: Attention and memory: A two-way street.

Hot off the Press: Subliminal Effects in Working Memory?

Subliminal Effects in Working Memory and Perception

A study led by our DPhil student Theresa Wildegger challenges the ability of subliminal stimuli to influence performance in working-memory tasks. Over a series of studies, she replicated previous reports that subliminal distracter stimuli can significantly influence behavior in immediate visuomotor tasks. Using the same stimuli, and sensitive methods to probe working-memory performance, she showed that subliminal distractors exerted no influence on working-memory performance. In the paper, we discuss why we believe our approach provides a more reliable picture than previous reports of subliminal effects in working memory. The differences between subliminal effects in visuomotor versus working-memory tasks provide important clues towards understanding the characteristics of WM representations.
The study is now available in the Journal of Experimental Psychology:

Looking for volunteers!

Have you been experiencing mood swings? Have you recently engaged in risky behaviour? Have you been so hyper that you got into trouble? If so, COMET is the study for you!

The COMET (“Cognition and Mood Evolution across Time”) study is an exciting new research project which aims to explore mood instability and cognitive function in individuals who show symptoms of mood instability, and compares this to individuals who have never experienced problematic moods.

We explore mood instability and cognitive function using daily app-based games presented on an iPad, as well as fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) and MEG (Magnetoencephalography) neuroimaging techniques. We also use modern “wearable” technologies that tell us about an individual’s activity patterns and physical state.

comet_logoIf you are interested in participating, please follow this link (https://psychiatryoxford.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_5iQxZFGGcKp7aTP) to complete our short pre-screen questionnaire. To find out more information, please visit our website:http://conbrio.psych.ox.ac.uk/comet  or email us on comet@psych.ox.ac.uk.

PhD Place for Pezzoli

Congratulations to Stefania Pezzoli, our research visitor at OHBA and the B&C lab (2013-2014), who has been awarded a scholarship to complete her PhD in Neuroscience at the University of Sheffield beginning in October 2015. Stefania will be continuing to develop her interests in understanding neurodegeneration by investigating the visual hallucinations in dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLB).

Mark Stokes Appointed Associate Professor

mark stokesBig congratulations to Mark Stokes on being appointed as the new Associate Professor in the Department of Experimental Psychology at Oxford and as Tutorial fellow at New College.

Mark is currently Head of the Attention Group at OHBA and Science Research Fellow at St John’s College, Oxford. He came to Oxford as a Junior Research Fellow at St John’s College and a postodoctoral researcher at the B&C Lab (2007-2011). We wish Mark all the best on this exciting new chapter of his rich academic life!

 

Jasper Hajonides Van Der Meulen accepted to the Research Master’s Brain & Cognitive Sciences Course

Jasper Hajonides van der Meulen Visiting Research Student

Congratulations to our Erasmus visiting student Jasper Hajonides Van Der Meulen who has been accepted to the Research Master’s Brain and Cognitive Sciences course in Amsterdam, in the Netherlands. Jasper is looking forward to the next formative steps in cognitive neuroscience in this excellent Masters Programme. We wish him well.

Further information about the Research Master’s Brain and Cognitive Sciences course can be found here:

http://www.uva.nl/en/education/master-s/master-s-programmes/content9/brain-and-cognitive-sciences-research/brain-and-cognitive-sciences-research.html

 

Nahid Zokaei awarded British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship

Congratulations to Nahid Zokaei on being awarded a highly competitive and prestigious British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship. To our good fortune, Nahid will be staying at the Brain & Cognition Lab, at the Department of Experimental Psychology at Oxford over the next 3 years. During her fellowship, Nahid plans to study dynamic prioritization of information in working memory in both health and disease using psychophysics, neuroimaging and brain stimulation techniques.

nahid

Welcome to Darren Barber

Welcome to Darren Barber, joining the B&C lab as a part-time executive assistant to Kia Nobre. Darren spends his other part time job working at Oxford United Football Club.

Welcome to Freek Van Ede

Welcome to Freek van Ede, joining OHBA and the Brain & Cognition Lab from the Donders Institute on a prestigious Newton Fellowship. Freek will be investigating the neural basis of working memory in the human brain, in close collaboration with members of the Brain & Cognition Lab (Nobre) and the Attention Group (Stokes).

freek

Brain Awareness Week 2015

We have been out and about to take part in a number of events for Brain Awareness Week, a global campaign to increase public interest in neuroscience research.

Here are some of the highlights:

• Members of the public had the chance to try out interactive activities from CHA (a Contextual Cueing task and an Asteroid Brain Training activity) and ConBRIO (the COMET Wheel of Fortune game).

• Clare Mackay gave a talk at this year’s Oxford ARUK Dementia Awareness Day about bridging the gap between research and clinical care.

• We learnt about exercise and cognition, epilepsy, cerebrovascular disease & dementia and Parkinson’s disease at the Tackling Brain Diseases talks, which included a question-and-answer session.

• We shared information about OxDARE and current research, and invited member of the public to become Friends of OxDARE.

brain_awareness_2015

Hot off the press: clarifying the role of risk gene in schizophrenia

Our new MEG and fMRI study suggests that the link between one gene, known as ZNF804A, and schizophrenia arises from its effects on rhythmic brain activity. The study compared activity in the hippocampus between healthy people who carry the schizophrenia-risk form of ZNF804A, with those who do not. Using MEG, the researchers showed for the first time that the ZNF804A gene variant influences theta activity in the hippocampus. Using fMRI, and consistent with earlier studies, they also showed that ZNF804A influences the co-ordination of activity between the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. The effects across methods correlated. We propose that the effects of ZNF804A on rhythmic theta activity might drive changes in the co-ordination activity between the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex.
The study was conducted by Helena Cousijn and Liz Tunbridge, led by Kia Nobre and Paul Harrison, and has just been published in Human Brain Mapping.  It is freely available to read online:http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/hbm.22778/pdf

Josh Chauvin launches It Gets Brighter

Third year DPhil student, Joshua Chauvin, recently launched the It Gets Brighter campaign, an online platform that collects short video messages of hope from individuals that have experienced a mental health difficulty, and those who support them. The website aims to give those struggling with a mental health issue the hope that it gets brighter, and to direct young people to seek out appropriate help and support. You can view their website here and check out a range of video messages from young people, politicians, celebrities and mental health spokespeople. The campaign was recently endorsed by British celebrities such as Stephen Fry, Justin Welby and Ruby Wax, and has been reported on by BBC world news, BBC Radio 5, the CBC, and other news agencies internationally. Their promotional video has also received over 10, 000 views on YouTube and other social media.

itgetsbrighter

 

 

 

OHBA to lead JSMF Collaborative Network on Oscillations

oscillationsThe James S McDonnell Foundation has granted OHBA an award to lead collaborative network of five world-leading groups interested in getting to the bottom of how oscillations contribute to neuronal computation to support perception and cognition. The group leaders include Kia Nobre (OHBA), Ole Jensen (Donders), Sabine Kastner (Princeton), Bob Knight (Berkeley), and Charlie Schroeder (Columbia and NKI). Research fellows in the collaboration so far are Nick Myers (OHBA, co-applicant), Anne Martin (Princeton), and Anna Jafarpour (Berkeley). The groups will bring together their various theoretical and methodological approaches and experimentation at multiple levels of organization to derive principles about the mechanisms and functional contributions of oscillations.

Establishing Murray Down Under

cdu-masterlogo-2
Congratulations to Alexandra Murray (B&C DPhil 2012) on her new position at Charles Darwin University. Alexandra will be applying her talents and good sense to help evaluate the research strategy, programs, and  training at this research intensive university in Australia’s Northern Territory.