Étudiant-chercheur étoile May 2015



Sébastien Tremblay

PhD student in Neuroscience
Université McGill


Award-winning publication: Attentional Filtering of Visual Information by Neuronal Ensembles in the Primate Lateral Prefrontal Cortex

Published in: Neuron, 01-2015
 

Abstract

"Because the brain cannot efficiently process all of the sensory information it receives every second, it relies on the attentional filtering process, which ensures that only input relevant to the task at hand is relayed for advanced cognitive processing. While studies in monkeys revealed that a single neuron can modulate its activity based on the attentional focus, researchers could not explain how the brain selects information within a period of time consistent with the animal's dynamic behaviour. By simultaneously recording the activity of a neural ensemble rather than a single neuron, we demonstrated that a network of neurons in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex carries out the attention filtering process with a resolution of approximately one millisecond. We were also able to control the quality of the attentional filtering process by modulating the level of interaction within the neural ensemble."

Sébastien Tremblay's research significantly advances the understanding of the biological foundations of the attentional filtering process, which fails in certain individuals and specifically in children with attention deficit disorder with or without hyperactivity. The potential to enhance the attentional filtering process undertaken by the neural ensembles paves the way for possible therapeutic interventions to increase the attentional abilities of clinical populations. In addition, decoding the attentional focus in an ecologically valid timeframe enables the use of brain-machine interface technologies, which could help patients suffering from motor dysfunctions use their brain to take control of objects in their environment (e.g. a robotic prosthesis or computer).