The long-term goal of this research is to contribute to the understanding of the neural mechanisms of perception, cognition and visually guided behavior in order to better prevent, diagnose, and treat disorders of these functions caused by trauma, developmental abnormalities and disease. In primates about half of the entire cerebral cortex is involved in visual perception, visual learning and visual memory. In addition to striate or primary visual cortex this cortex includes prestriate and inferior temporal (IT) cortex. In the proposed period, ongoing research on prestriate and IT cortex will be continued using neurophysiological, neuroanatomical and behavioral methods.
One aim of the research on prestriate cortex is to determine the visual topography of several newly discovered prestriate visual areas.
A second aim i s to determine whether """"""""blindsight"""""""" (i.e. the visual functions that remain after striate lesions but are not conscious) is dependent on prestriate Area MT. The research on inferior temporal cortex has five specific aims. The first is to study the effects of attention on the activity of IT cells . The second is to study neural correlates of mental representation and memory in the activity of IT cells. The third is to investigate the idea that the temporal modulation of IT responses may represent both stimulus factors and extra - retinal influences such as attention and memory.
The fourth aim i s to analyze neural networks in IT cortex by studying the functional interactions among simultaneously recorded IT neurons. The fifth aim is to further study the regional specialization and functional architecture of IT cortex.
These aims are directly relevant to such health problems as the treatment of visual and perceptual disorders after damage to the cerebral cortex, the optimal utilization of sensory capacities after brain-damage, the development of visual protheses, and the treatment of developmental disorders in children.