Seminar: “The Role of the Early Visual Cortex in Action and Perception: Beyond Visual Processing,” Dr. Simona Monaco (University of Trento, Italy), A-130, 12:40PM March 22 (EN)

“The role of the Early Visual Cortex in Action and Perception:
Beyond Visual Processing ”

Dr. Simona Monaco
Marie Curie Research Fellow and Principal Investigator at Center for Mind/Brain Sciences, University of Trento, Italy

In this talk I will present a series of research projects that fill a niche in action and perception by investigating their relationship with other forms of cognition, such as motor imagery, and by putting emphasis on the top-down aspects of neural processing. Specifically, I will review fMRI data from three experiments that span three conceptual themes of my ongoing research interests. First, I will present evidence that tactile exploration of shapes in the dark activates not only the retinotopic location of the shape, as expected for visual explorations, but also the foveal cortex, corresponding to central vision, even though the stimulus was unseen and location in the visual field was peripheral. Second, I will show that action intention can be decoded as early as in the foveal cortex even before participants start to move, and that predictions about the visual consequences of an impending movement and motor preparation differentially modulate the activity pattern in early visual and somatosensory-motor areas. With the third project, I will explain how the neural representations for planning vs. imagining hand movements rely on overlapping but distinct neural substrates. In addition, I will present a number of future projects that will use neuroimaging techniques and decoding analyses to answer outstanding questions about the relation between predictive coding for action and the acquisition of new motor skills. In sum, I aim to show that action is not only a product of the motor system, but rather the unitary output generated by a cascade of neural mechanisms that encompasses the perceptual and cognitive domains.

DATE : Thursday, 22 March 2018
TIME : 12.40-13.30
ROOM : A 130