I study how the brain produces the sophisticated forms of cognition
that allow humans and macaques to achieve goals flexibly and efficiently.
We use these capacities to adapt to and profit from our environment. My
specific work focuses on the mechanisms at work in the prefrontal
cortex, the anterior part of cortex particularly developed in primate
species. I study the ways in which different cortical regions interact
with prefrontal cortex to produce flexible and efficient behaviour. To do this we make recordings of neural activity in different phases of a cognitive task, in order to link the activity to the task.
Currently at SBRI I study whether and how cortical oscillations are
implicated in these processes. Cortical oscillations are increasing
thought to subserve interaction at different levels between assemblies
in the brain.
I currently work on two major projects. In the first we seek to understand how these oscillations and other neurophysiological markers change during the early stages of Parkinson's disease prior to the development of the classical symptoms of the disease. This project has clear clinical benefits in terms of understanding early neurodegenration, but also brings fundamental knowledge about the assemblies of the frontal cortex and their relation to dopamine.
In the second project, we are studying the way in which cortical assemblies interact in order to subserve 'learning to learn', the principle of improving one's learning, becoming flexible in one's learning, and applying task sets appropriate to a given situation. We will study the very specific interactions of the
anterior cingulate cortex with prefrontal cortex, and how these interactions are mediated by
different neurotransmitter systems.'