Eirini Mavritsaki along with her colleagues Dietmar Heinke, Harriet Allen, Gustavo Deco and Glyn Humphreys have been awarded the British Psychological Society Cognitive Psychology Prize for 2012. The ceremony will take place in Glasgow at the BPS Annual Cognitive Section Conference which takes place 29-31 August 2012.

Eirini Mavritsaki

In summary, the paper demonstrates the importance of computational models that include neuronal details close to the physiology of real neurons. It shows that using the biological plausible units we can bridge the gap between physiology and behaviour.

The paper argues that spiking level network, with neuronal details as illustrated in the figure below, can allow ‘vertical’ translation between physiological properties of neural systems and emergent ‘whole system’ performance – enabling psychological results to be simulated from implemented networks, and also inferences to be made from simulations concerning processing at a neural level. These models also emphasise particular factors (e.g., the dynamics of performance in relation to real-time neuronal processing) that are not highlighted in other approaches and which can be tested empirically. The paper illustrates the argument from neural-level models that select stimuli by biased competition. It shows that a model with biased competition dynamics can simulate data ranging from physiological studies of single cell activity to ‘whole system’ behaviour in human visual search, while also capturing effects at ‘intermediate level’, including performance break down after neural lesion and data from brain imaging. It also shows that, at each level of analysis novel predictions can be derived from the biologically plausible parameters adopted, which the team proceeds to test. The paper argues that, at least for studying the dynamics of visual attention, the approach productively links single cell to psychological data.

Mavritsaki, E., Heinke, D., Allen, H., Deco, G. & Humphreys G.W. (2011). Bridging the gap between physiology and behavior: Evidence from the sSoTS model of human visual attention. Psychological Review, 118(1), p.3-41.

Computational units

Figure: This figure demonstrates the details that the computational units have. The cell is considered as one unit that receives 5 different currents (AMPA recurrent, AMPA external, GABA, NMDA and IAHP). The inset on the right shows the group of neurons (in the computational model). This group of neurons can be located anywhere in the brain and have the above properties.