Cohen Laboratory

Our lab, led by principal investigator Marlene Cohen, is part of the University of Pittsburgh Department of Neuroscience and the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition.

We are interested in how we use vision to gather information about the world and decide how to act. As primates, we perceive the world primarily through our eyes. Each time we move our eyes, our brains are bombarded with visual information. Our brains need to pick out the most important aspects of the visual scene and make quick decisions about how to act based on that information. We are interested in how this information is encoded in the brain and how processes like visual attention allow us to flexibly pick out the information that is most crucial at any given moment. We also study how our cognitive state affects our perceptual abilities.

We use a combination of single and multi-electrode electrophysiology, psychophysics, and computational techniques. Our goals are to study how visual information is encoded in groups of neurons at different stages of the visual pathway and to understand the relationship between the activity of different groups of neurons, the animal's cognitive state, and behavior.

The most important part of our approach is to record the responses of many neurons simultaneously. Measuring the responses of groups of neurons gives us a glimpse of the visual information available at any moment and allows us to study how the responses of visual neurons are used to guide behavioral decisions.