Edward Ester: Category and choice cues in the human visual cortex | Undergraduate Research


Category and choice cues in the human visual cortex




I received my PhD from the University of Oregon in 2011 and joined the faculty at UNR in 2020. I believe that undergraduate research experience is an essential part of a university education full, and my lab typically hosts 2-3 undergraduate volunteers each semester. Many of these students have won awards and recognition for their work and have completed internationally recognized graduate, medical and professional programs. I want the students working in my lab to play an important role in all parts of the scientific process, from project conceptualization, to data collection and analysis, to dissemination of results at scientific conferences, and to through scientific articles. Many current and former undergraduate researchers in the lab have presented their findings at national conferences and have co-authored peer-reviewed publications.

Project overview

Categorization refers to the process of assigning meaning to stimuli. Categorization allows us to learn new skills, to distinguish physically similar but conceptually different objects, and to apply our existing knowledge of the world to new objects we have never seen before. Our lab studies how the brain assigns category labels to visual stimuli, and we have developed a theory that predicts that these labels are generated and represented by motor systems that control how we interact with objects in the environment. To test this hypothesis, we will use noninvasive measurements of human brain activity – including electroencephalography (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) – to measure brain responses in brain areas associated with treatment. sensory and motor planning as participants learn arbitrary new categories. Students working on this project will have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience with EEG and fMRI and analyze their own data. This project will involve a lot of computer programming, and while no prior experience is required, a willingness to try new things and help solve difficult technical problems is a must! Students will also be required to present preliminary data at a university-sponsored undergraduate research symposium and may also have the opportunity to attend and/or present results at a scientific conference.

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