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Consolider Groups
Speech Perception, Production and Bilingualism
Cognitive Neuroscience of Auditory Perception and Attention
Group of Attention, Action and Perception
Computational and Theoretical Neuroscience
Neuropsychology and Functional Neuroimaging
Grammar and Bilingualism
 
 
 

Computational and Theoretical Neuroscience (CTN)

 

 

Group coordinator: Gustavo Deco.

Group members: Larissa Albantakis, Mario Pannunzi, Etienne Hugues, Joana Cabral, Tim Masquelier, Marina Martinez, Laura Dempere.

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GOALS OF THE GROUP

The Computational and Theoretical Neuroscience Group investigates neuronal and cortical mechanisms of perception and cognition. The analysis of networks of integrate-and-fire neurons allows the integration of the study of many aspects of brain function, from the spiking activity of single neurons and the effects of pharmacological agents on synaptic currents, through fMRI and neuropsychological findings, and allows many aspects of cognitive function to be modeled and understood.

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SUBPROJECTS OF THE GROUP  

Subproject 1: Language Learning and Resting State. Spatiotemporally organized spontaneous low-frequency (< 0.1 Hz) fluctuations have been revealed by the blood-oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD) fMRI signal during rest. Indeed, in the absence of a task, significant correlations between distinct anatomical regions are found. These correlations, referred to as functional connectivity (FC), yield large-scale maps constituting resting-state networks (RSNs). Furthermore, direct measurements of the neuronal activity have revealed similar large-scale correlations, particularly in the slow fluctuations in the power of local field potential gamma frequency range oscillations. In particular, in cooperation with our experimental partners in CONSOLIDER we aim to study the influence of learning a second language on the resting state activity. We hypothesize that learning a second language sculpts the connectivity structure of the brain by plasticity and consequently changes the resting state activity. A combined experimental fMRI, behavioural and computational approach will discern and specify the characteristic of these underlying plasticity changes. We defined a model of global brain activity taking into account the long range connectivity together with its corresponding conduction delays and instantiating sustained gamma oscillations in the dynamics of its local nodes. We applied the model to human measured structural connectivity and searched for parameters to allow the model to reproduce the human empirical FC obtained at the same nodes.

Subproject 2: Social Context in Decision-Making. Humans are unique in their capacity to build social networks and theorize about the mental states of others, allowing complex societies and interpersonal exchange to thrive. Recently, an increasing number of studies have addressed how these social skills can influence fundamental mechanisms of human cognition. We focus on a very specific, but relevant aspect of social interaction, namely the existence of a social hierarchy, in basic cognitive performance. We study how carrying out a test at the same time, but not in competition with someone who is perceived as a better or worse performer (and therefore with a higher or lower rank), modifies performance on two tasks: the first a (magnitude estimation) decision-making task and the second in understanding spoken language. With a computational model of decision-making, we fit the behavioural data under different contextual conditions and we expect to infer the neuronal mechanistic causes underlying the effect of social influences.