I am interested in how our visual perception of the world is constructed from the activity of populations of neurons. My laboratory employs neurophysiological and computational approaches to this problem, integrating cognitive phenomena, such as attention and memory, with computational analyses, neuroanatomy and circuitry, and motor planning and action. Specifically, we simultaneously record from dozens of individual neurons in visual cortex and relate the activity we observe in cortical circuitry to experimental manipulations of visual perception.
My research has revealed that measurement of the local circuitry in the visual cortex is critical for understanding the building blocks of visual processing, both within and across brain regions. We found that functional connections between neurons vary depending on the visual stimulus, the distance between neurons, the temporal scale, and the cortical layer. We are currently exploring a number of questions, including: (1) How interactions between cortical regions influence neural populations, such as feedback from prefrontal areas to visual cortex; (2) How functional connections among neurons are modulated by the animal's task, such as planning a saccade to different regions of the visual field; (3) How information flow among neurons is altered within and between cortical lamina based on cognitive demands; (4) How cortical circuitry is altered with abnormal visual experience (such as in amblyopia or glaucoma), and how a better understanding of cortical circuitry might lay the foundation for cortical visual prosthetic devices.
Williamson RC, Doiron B, Smith MA, Yu BM. Bridging large-scale neuronal recordings and large-scale network models using dimensionality reduction. Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2019 Apr;55:40-47. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2018.12.009. Epub 2019 Jan 22. Review. PubMed PMID: 30677702; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6548625.