Dr. Kristina Nielsen

SLI Title

Assistant Professor, Department of Neuroscience

Bio

We are interested in understanding how visual information is transformed between processing stages in visual cortex. Early stages of our visual system represent visual information in a pixel-like fashion, akin to the picture format used by a digital camera. This is a very useful, general representation of visual information. Yet, further processing is required for the more complex functions accomplished by our visual system. Consider object recognition, for example. Changes in position, color or lighting conditions lead to large changes in the physical appearance of an object, and thereby it’s pixel-level description. Thus, the initial representation of objects in the visual system is not particularly useful for object recognition, which needs to be invariant to these changes. Instead, further processing is required to generate an invariant representation of the object itself. This is the task of dedicated higher order visual areas.

In general, each stage of processing in the visual system – both within a visual area, as well as across areas – transforms the input it receives into a more abstract representation to aid visual perception and cognition. My lab is interested in the structure and function of these circuits, both between primary and higher order visual areas, as well as within individual higher order visual areas. We study how visual information is represented at each of the different processing stages to investigate the nature of the transformations occurring in visual cortex. In addition, we are interested in how these circuits develop, as well as their plasticity. Techniques employed in the lab include two-photon calcium imaging, extracellular recordings, psychophysics, and immunohistochemistry. 

Affiliated Research