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BRINGING VISION TO ACTION - THE NEURAL CODING OF VISUAL SPACE

Most of us rely on our sense of vision to interact with the world around us. To reach toward, walk around, or look at an object, we need to know where it is relative to our body. This is challenging, because our eyes almost never sit still, and so the incoming images are almost constantly changing. Dr. Adam Morris' laboratory seeks to understand how the visual brain takes into account eye movements, and how it constructs our sense of a stable visual world.

The brain receives a stream of vital information about the environment from its sensory systems, but not all sensory events are caused by changes in the outside world. In fact, most are caused by our own behaviour. Consider the case of vision: our eyes dart endlessly from one location to another, our heads turn, and our entire bodies move forward and sideways as we walk - all of which cause wholesale changes in the image that is projected onto the retina. Adam's research seeks to understand how the brain makes sense of this chaotic visual input, and how it compiles retinal images into a stable internal model of the outside world for planning further movements.

'The challenge is that the brain needs to know where our eyes are looking at any given moment. If that is known, it can work out the locations of visual objects relative to our bodies, and it can ignore self-induced changes in the image. So our challenge, as neuroscientists, is to work out how neurons combine visual input with internal signals about eye position and eye movements', Adam says.

A common view is that the brain sends copies of its own plans for movement back to visual areas of the brain to inform them of impending, self-induced changes in the visual image. This warning allows neurons to represent scene features as they really are in the world, not as they appear to the moving eye.

To test this hypothesis, Adam measures the activity of neurons in visual cortex in animals during eye movements and uses the data to build computer models of the visual environment. 'If the visual world of a given model is similar to the one that we experience, it provides evidence that we are on the right track in understanding how visual space is represented in the brain.'

Dr. Morris joined the Department of Physiology at Monash as a Research Fellow in January 2015. He completed his PhD in the field of cognitive neuroscience at the University of Melbourne in 2008 under the supervision of Australian Laureate Professor Jason Mattingley. He then completed postdoctoral training with Pew Scholar Dr. Bart Krekelberg (Rutgers University, USA; 2008-2012) and Michael Ibbotson (2013-2014) in the fields of sensory electrophysiology and computational neuroscience.

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Projects 2015 2021

Research Output 2004 2017

Metacognitive monitoring and control in visual change detection: Implications for situation awareness and cognitive control

McAnally, K., Morris, A. & Best, C. 15 Sep 2017 In : PLoS ONE. 12, 9, e0176032

Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle

Open Access
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Adaptation without plasticity

Quiroga, M. D. M., Morris, A. & Krekelberg, B. 27 Sep 2016 In : Cell Reports. 17, p. 58 - 68 12 p.

Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle

Open Access
File

The dorsal visual system predicts future and remembers past eye position

Morris, A. P., Bremmer, F. & Krekelberg, B. 2016 In : Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience. 10, p. 1 - 15 15 p., 9

Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle

Open Access
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Neuroscience: Tiny eye movements link vision and attention

Morris, A. 2015 In : Current Biology. 25, 17, p. 769 - 771 3 p.

Research output: Research - peer-reviewComment / Debate

Open Access

The (un)suitability of modern liquid crystal displays (LCDs) for vision research

Ghodrati, M., Morris, A. P. & Price, N. S. C. 2015 In : Frontiers in Psychology. 6, 11 p., 303

Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle

Open Access
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