We are constantly exposed to inputs from the outside world, but we do not perceive everything we are exposed to. Some inputs are rather weak: we might perceive them at one point in time, but not at another. The state of our brains right before we receive such sensory inputs influences whether or not we perceive them. Brain oscillations are proposed to play a key role in setting these brain states; however, how exactly these brain rhythms influence our perception remains a topic of active research.

In particular, the role of beta oscillations (~13-30 Hz) is still unclear, and two seemingly contradictory functions have been proposed: (1) inhibition, i.e., suppression of processing, versus (2) activation of neural populations that are relevant for the task at hand.

This project involves analyzing data recorded from primates performing a tactile detection task: they receive weak stimuli on their fingers and then report whether or not they felt them. This project will be a great opportunity to develop skills in electrophysiological data analysis, including local field potential and spike data recorded from the somatosensory thalamus and primary somatosensory cortex. You will also become familiar with the state of the art in systems neuroscience.

One selected candidate will receive a stipend via the DSI Scholars program. Amount is subject to available funding.

Faculty Advisor

  • Professor: Saskia Haegens
  • Department/School: Dept. of Psychiatry, Division of Systems Neuroscience
  • Location: Kolb Annex, 40 Haven Ave
  • The Brain Rhythms lab is interested in the functional role of neuronal oscillations in controlling the flow of information through the brain. We use MEG in healthy human subjects, as well as electrophysiology in patients and animal models, to study brain dynamics in the context of perception & cognition.

Project Timeline

  • Earliest starting date: 3/2/2020
  • End date: 8/31/2020
  • Number of hours per week of research expected during Spring 2020: ~8
  • Number of hours per week of research expected during Summer 2020: ~40

Candidate requirements

  • Skill sets: programming experience with matlab or python, background in signal processing and/or statistics
  • Student eligibility: freshman, sophomore, junior, senior, master’s
  • International students on F1 or J1 visa: eligible