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Laboratory of Brain and Cognition (LBC)

Research

The goal of the Section on Learning and Plasticity is to elucidate how the structure, function and selectivity of the cortex change with experience or impairment, even in adulthood. We use functional brain imaging (fMRI) and behavioral (eye tracking, psychophysics) techniques to investigate two main areas of interest. First, we are interested in how experience and learning change the neural and cognitive representations of high-level visual stimuli. For example, what are the cortical changes underlying our enormous capacity to learn new visual objects or scenes and to make fine-grained discriminations among those stimuli. Second, we are interested in how the cortex adapts following damage to the nervous system (either peripheral or central). For example, how does the loss of sensory input impact cortical processing and what are the consequences of those changes? Currently Dr. Baker’s section is investigating both loss of visual input (e.g. as a result of macular degeneration) and loss of somatosensory input (e.g. as a result of amputation). Elucidating the nature, extent and consequences of cortical plasticity is critical for understanding brain function throughout life.