Attention, working memory, and cortical information processing
Our research focuses on understanding how behavioral goals influence perception, decision making, and memory. Perception is thought to be based on the activity of sensory neurons that receive input from the world around us (in the form of light, sound, etc.). However, sensory neurons are very noisy and unreliable, so small groups of these neurons must work together to support stable perceptual representations. In addition, a combination of factors such as prior experiences, current expectations, and behavioral goals influence the activity of sensory neurons to bias perception in favor of the most important objects in the environment. What we experience is therefore not merely a product of the raw sensory input, but instead reflects the combined influence of sensory factors and the internal state of the observer. To investigate the influence of behavioral goals and previous experiences on perception and cognition, we employ a combination of psychophysics, computational modeling, and neuroimaging techniques.
Ester E.F., Sprague T.C., & Serences J.T. (2015) Parietal and frontal cortex encode stimulus-specific mnemonic representations during visual working memory. Neuron.[pdf]
Sprague, T.C., Saproo, S. & Serences, J.T. (2015) Visual attention mitigates information loss in small- and large-scale neural codes. Trends in Cognitive Sciences. [pdf] [Tutorial files]
Itthipuripat, S., Ester, E.F., Deering, S., Serences, J.T. (2014) Sensory gain outperforms efficient read-out mechanisms in predicting attention-related improvements in behavior.Journal of Neuroscience. [pdf]
Sprague, T.C., Ester, E., Serences, J.T. (2014) Reconstructions of information in visual spatial working memory degrade with memory load. Current Biology. [pdf]
Itthipuripat, S., Garcia, J.O., Rungratsameetaweemana, N. Sprague, T.C., Serences, J.T. (2014) Changing the spatial scope of attention alters patterns of neural gain in human cortex. Journal of Neuroscience. [pdf]
Sprague, T.C., Serences, J.T. (2013) Attention modulates spatial priority maps in human occipital, parietal, and frontal cortex. Nature Neuroscience. [pdf] [supplementary material] [source data]