AVA Awards Recipients Report – Reuben Rideaux
I used the award to support me in attending the 2017 VSS annual meeting at St. Pete Beach, Florida, where I gave an oral presentation on my current research, entitled ‘Perceptual integration of depth cues is facilitated by inhibitory processing in dorsal visual’.
The focus of my research is on cue integration. Previous models of cue integration fail to capture perceptual robustness. In my talk I presented a new model of cue integration that overcomes these issues, capturing behaviour across the full range of cue conflicts. The model makes use of the observation that many neurons are sensitive to unrealistic combinations of cues. The central premise of our model is that incongruent neurons are used proscriptively to drive suppression of unlikely interpretations of the local environment, implying a central role for suppression in supporting robust integration. We therefore sought to test for neural signatures of proscription in the human brain. We first tested whether there is an association between robust perceptual integration and concentrations of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA in an area of the human brain intricately involved in cue fusion (V3B/KO). We show that GABA around V3B/KO correlates strongly with perceptual cue integration. We then sought to perturb suppressive processing, using transcranial direct current stimulation to disrupt the excitatory/inhibitory balance in the region of V3B/KO. We show that this leads to impaired perceptual integration. Together our modelling and empirical results point to a central role for proscription in support of robust perceptual integration. This suggests a generalised mechanism for sensory processing that exploits ‘what not’ information to facilitate perception.
While there isn’t much time for discussion immediately following talks, I had several people approach me later in the conference to chat about my work, how it impacted their own, and possible directions in which to take it. As always, this feedback is essential to understand our ideas within the current research climate, and provides many valuable ideas for the future.
The meeting is one of favourites. There is so much to see each day, and while this can initially seem overwhelming, I always seem to find time to see the posters I’m interested in between talks. Each time I come to the meeting I find I enjoy it more and more. Not only do you know more people, but you become familiar with an increasing number of different techniques and topics.
I would like to thank the AVA very much for supporting me in attending VSS.