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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The effects of cognitive state on visual encoding properties in human cortex

  • Author(s): Vo, Vy Ai
  • Advisor(s): Serences, John T
  • et al.

Understanding the format of neural representations is a key problem in neuroscience. I present a series of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies of the human visual system to investigate the format of how visual information is represented, and how the format changes due to different cognitive demands. First, I investigate how covert spatial attention modifies visual encoding properties at two different levels of analysis—at the level of a single spatial encoding unit, the receptive field, and at the level of the encoding population. Second, I examine how the contents of visual memory are represented across both working memory and long-term memory, systems that have traditionally been considered distinct entities. Together these data reveal how different retinotopic regions of visual cortex flexibly encode information about the visual world and how they are altered in response to varying cognitive demands.

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