Control of Attention in the human brain studied with real-time fMRI. (360G-Wellcome-086873_Z_08_Z)
Many forms of brain damage, either acute or progressive, can compromise patients ability to move and to communicate. While much work has focused on attempts to reverse the pathological process causing such damage, rather less has sought to provide complementary approaches of circumventing the effects of damage by using brain signals from sensory or motor cortex to control neuroprosthetic devices. Moreover, investigating the neural basis of such signals has direct biological relevance for unders tanding mechanisms of perception and action. Here, I propose to use the new technique of real-time fMRI (rt-fMRI) to address both issues. My proposal thus addresses two inter-related questions of biological and practical significance. First, can attention be decoded in real time from human visual cortex to potentially provide control signals for a neural prosthesis? Second, does the level of attentionally modulated activity in human visual cortex have a causal influence on perception and awarene ss? I will combine real-time functional MRI (rt-fMRI) with on-line neurofeedback in human participants in a series of experiments that both probe the effects of attention on visual cortex and evaluate the potential utility of decoding such signals for communication and control.
£189,768 04 Dec 2008