Prof. Slovin's Lab
Head - Neural Imaging Lab
Studying the Visual System from A to Z
The Neural Imaging Laboratory, headed by Prof. Hamutal Slovin of the Leslie and Susan Gonda (Goldschmied) Multidisciplinary Brain Research Center, is dedicated to the study of visual processing, decoding of visual content, and artificial vision.
Slovin’s long term goals are to provide novel insights into perceptually guided behavior, facilitate the development of a useful cortical visual neuroprosthesis, and improve treatment of visually impaired subjects.
Understanding Visual Processing
Slovin and her team aim to understand the neuronal mechanisms mediating visual processing and visual perception. When a visual image is presented, it is broken down to its stimulus features - e.g. color, orientation, spatial frequency etc. - within each point in the visual field.
Slovin’s group is investigating the mechanisms behind this process in the primary visual cortex. They are also trying to shed light on the "binding problem", namely, how spatially separated neural activity bind together to generate the perception of a coherent object. Slovin's group is also attempting to decipher neuronal mechanisms mediating higher brain functions such as visual attention, perceptual learning and visual awareness.
Decoding, or “Mind Reading,” of Visual Content
Another research goal of Slovin's is to understand the decoding (or "mind reading") of visual stimuli content in the brain. Using a brain model, she is applying a set of algorithms to decipher and reconstruct the visual content of simple basic stimuli into complex images.
Artificial vision for the blind consists of transforming visual images captured by a camera into electrical currents that the brain can interpret. Using microstimulation in the visual cortex, Slovin's team is trying to create a “'Brain-Machine Interface” that will act as a cortical neuroprosthesis for high detail artificial vision.
Imaging Technologies for Measuring Neural Assemblies
Slovin and her team utilizea number of cutting-edge imaging technologies in behaving monkeys. These include: (i) Voltage-Sensitive Dye Imaging (VSDI) to measure neural population activity at high spatial (10,000 pixels, 50-200x50-200 µm2/pixel) and temporal resolution (1-10 msec/frame) simultaneously; and (ii) Optical Imaging of Intrinsic Signals (OIS) to study microvascular responses.
These techniques are complemented by electrophysiological recordings and intra-cortical microstimulation. The neural activity measured with VSDI enables the study of unresolved fundamental questions in the field of visual neuroscience and has already provided novel insights into brain function. Slovin's lab is one of only a few laboratories worldwide conducting VSDI in behaving monkeys.