The Union College Psychology Department Speaker Series and Honors Colloquium welcome
Gregory Cox, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, University at Albany
for a public lecture entitled
Salience by Competitive and Recurrent Interactions: Linking "How" and "Why" in Visual Search
Thursday, January 13, 2022
12:45–1:50 PM • Karp 105
Note: No food/drink due to COVID policy
A challenge in the study of cognition is to relate "how" cognition works at the level of individual neurons with "why" cognition takes place at the level of goal-directed whole-organism behavior. Computational modeling helps address this challenge by linking the dynamics of cognitive processes that produce behavior to the dynamics of the neurons that implement those processes. In this talk, I describe a computational model called Salience by Competitive and Recurrent Interactions (SCRI). SCRI is a theory of how neurons in the Frontal Eye Fields (FEF) integrate localization and identification information over time to form a dynamic representation of the relative salience of objects across the visual field. This representation is treated as "evidence" which is accumulated by other neurons in FEF to decide where to make saccadic eye movements during visual search. SCRI accounts for the millisecond-by-millisecond spiking activity of individual---and often idiosyncratic---FEF neurons in terms of the computational mechanisms exhibited by each neuron. Meanwhile, simulated neural activity from SCRI, coupled with a Gated Accumulator Model of FEF movement neurons, reproduces the details of saccade response times of macaques during various forms of visual search. In this way, SCRI helps to "close the loop" between neural activity and behavior, building bridges between different ways of understanding cognition.