Physiology of Sensory Integration

(Christoph Kayser)

Our brain is exposed to a flood of sensory inputs. The efficient and reliable processing of these suggests that sensory systems are adapted to the properties of their natural input and employ highly efficient means for encoding and decoding sensory information. Our work aims at understanding the principles underlying sensory information processing and how this is translated into reliable behavioral reactions.

Specifically, we focus on the process of multisensory integration, i.e. the combination of visual, acoustic or touch information in the brain. The multisensory nature of our brain not only facilitates every day perception, but also offers critical benefits for learning and sensory compensation. In our work we employ functional imaging studies to localize sensory convergence and electrophysiological methods to study the underlying neuronal processes. Using advanced computational approaches we quantify the sensory information contained in potential neural codes and functional connectivity between brain regions. We expect that our work not only enhances our understanding of the neural basis underlying perception, but also provides insights that are potentially useful for the development of more effective neuro-rehabilitation programs for individuals with sensory processing deficits.

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