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Vision Center Laboratory

Vision Center Laboratory at the Salk Institute

Nearly every facet of human experience is colored by the sense of sight. The effortlessness and immediacy with which this sense conveys physical, social, and aesthetic qualities of one's environment belie the extraordinary complexity of the brain mechanisms involved. Our acute dependence upon these mechanisms is brought to the fore, however, by a variety of developmental, traumatic, and disease-related disorders of visual perception and visually-guided behavior. While rarely life- threatening, such disorders can be profoundly debilitating, impairing activities that we have come to take for granted, such as reading, driving, or recognizing family and friends. We seek a thorough understanding of brain mechanisms of visual information processing, with the promise of effective treatment and remediation of disorders of vision, as well as insights into the nature of our conscious experience of the world.

The specific aims of our research have been to identify how sensory signals in the brain become "integrated" to form neuronal representations of the objects that populate our visual environment and form our conscious experiences of the world. To achieve this goal, we monitor both perceptual and neuronal events elicited by specific visual inputs. The results of these experiments enable us to infer the neuronal events that give rise to specific perceptual states, and they provide evidence for the neuronal circuitry that underlies sensory and perceptual representations in the brain.