Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization -- Department for Nonlinear Dynamics and Network Dynamics Group
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BCCN AG-Seminar

Tuesday, 14.11.2006 16 c.t.

Cognitive coordination: Function, Physiology, Pathology

by Prof. Dr. Bill Phillips
from Psychology Department, University of Stirling, Scotland, UK


Seminarraum Haus 2, 4. Stock (Bunsenstr.)


Cognitive neuroscience is dominated by evidence for semantic specialization; different cortical regions, and different cells within regions, process information about different things. We now need to understand how these diverse activities are coordinated. Dynamic grouping and contextual modulation are the two major forms of coordination, and there is a rich variety of tasks by which they may be studied. Coordinating interactions are implemented by a distinct family of mechanisms that include inhibitory interneurons and NMDA receptors, with the NR2A sub-type, which predominates in mature cortex, providing higher temporal resolution than the NR2B. I will report data from a new psychophysical paradigm that assesses the temporal resolution of visual grouping processes. Using it we find that severely reduced temporal resolution is associated with schizophrenic symptoms. Other studies show that psychotic disorganization is also associated with reduced context-sensitivity, reduced ability to select relevant signals, and impairments of dynamic grouping. Many studies implicate inhibitory interneurons and NMDA receptors in the neural bases of schizophrenic disorders, so they further strengthen the perspective proposed. The concept of coordination has been simplified and formalized in the theory of Coherent Infomax, which states that a goal of processing is to increase the mutual information between the outputs of limited capacity processors that operate on distinct input data sets. A major question raised will be whether this formalization merits further development, e.g. by explicitly distinguishing between environmental and internal feedback.

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