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Functional role of frontal category-selective areas in primates
Belgium (BeMSA) - KU Leuven, Leuven
Lab. Neuro-and Psychophysiology, Fac.
Type of Research Project
- Basic science
What is the background of the project?
Facial information is critically important for guiding interactions among conspecifics of many social species, including humans. In primates, an extensive network of interconnected brain areas processes such as facial information. This face-processing network comprises several well-studied ventral stream areas, but also some prefrontal regions whose functional characteristics, connectivity and functional role in face perception are severely understudied.
What is the aim of the project?
We aim to investigate the neuronal mechanisms underlying face processing in dedicated frontal networks of primates. We will first use fMRI to map the frontal face processing network. Guided by these maps we will investigate the selectivity of single neurons for a wide variety of facial stimuli.
What techniques and methods are used?
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in nonhuman primates Single unit recordings (measuring action potentials from single neurons) Psychophysics (testing perceptual abilities in nonhuman primates) Stages of the project: we propose a series of experiments to i) map category-selectivity of frontal cortex and characterize the responses of frontal face patches using state-of-the-art sub-mm fMRI and single-unit recordings. ii) Guided by these maps, we will investigate how frontal face patches are effectively connected with the rest of the face processing network using a combination of fMRI and microstimulation.
What is the role of the student?
- The student will mainly observe
- The student will observe the practical experiments but will be highly involved in the analysis of the results
- The tasks will be done under supervision
What are the tasks expected to be accomplished by the student?
The student will assist in the behavioral training and testing of the animals. The student will also help collecting electrophysiological and fMRI data during the optogenetic inactivation of the target region. Depending on the analytical skills of the student, (s)he can assist in the analyses of the behavioral and functional data. All work will be performed under the direct supervision of an experienced PhD student and Postdoc.
Will there be any theoretical teaching provided (preliminary readings, lectures, courses, seminars etc)
Preliminary readings are required and a course on working with laboratory animals is mandatory. This will be provided by the KU Leuven and should be finished (as much as possible) before arrival in the lab.
What is expected from the student at the end of the research exchange? What will be the general outcome of the student?
- The student will prepare a scientific report
What skills are required of the student? Is there any special knowledge or a certain level of studies needed?
Preferentially Matlab knowledge; having a knack for work with computers; Not being afraid to perform behavioral work with large animals. There will be a thorough screening by the PI before a student is accepted. The student has to follow an online course about animal experimentation and pass a test. Subjects passed: BA course Neurophysiology Certificate of: Laboratory Animal Course
Are there any legal limitations in the student’s involvement
The student needs to acquire a certificate to work with laboratory animals. The student also have to undergo a medical screening (e.g. TB-negative test) The certificate (Federation of European Laboratory Animal Science Associations) can be acquired by successfully completing a test. If you are selected to take part in this project we will give you access to a course to prepare for the test. Once in Belgium a practical test, as well as the theoretical test, will be done. It is necessary to learn for the test using the online course.
Type of students accepted
This project accepts: - Medical students - Graduated students (less than 6 months) - Pre-Medical students from the American-British system - Students in biomedical fields
- Zhu Q.; Vanduffel W. (2019). Submillimeter fMRI reveals a new layout of dorsal visual cortex in macaques; remarkably similar to New World monkeys. PNAS vol. 116 (6); 2306-2311 doi: 10.1073/pnas.1805561116.
- Li X.; Zhu Q.; Janssens T.; Arsenault J.; Vanduffel W. (2019). In-vivo identification of thick; thin and pale stripes of macaque area V2 using sub-millimeter resolution (f)MRI at 3 Tesla. Cerebral Cortex; 29 (2); 544-560. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhx337.
- Premereur E.; Taubert J.; Janssen P.; Vogels R.; Vanduffel W. (2016). Effective Connectivity Reveals Largely Independent Parallel Networks of Face and Body Patches. Current Biology; 26 (24); 3269-3279.
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