Congratulations to Canadian Neurophotonics Platform researcher André Longtin and collaborator Leonard Maler, both at University of Ottawa, who were awarded the NSERC Brockhouse Canada Prize for Interdisciplinary Research in Science and Engineering.
From the NSERC website:
André Longtin and Leonard Maler have combined their expertise in physics, mathematics and neurobiology to reveal key features of the neural code that underlies the operation of the brain. The University of Ottawa researchers use electric fish to trace the journey of signals as they move through the entire sensory process, observing the hidden traits of brain activity in moments of focus. For instance, Longtin and Maler were the first to show how the brain uses movement to gather information and fix attention. When someone throws you a ball, your eyes move between any number of points to locate and track until it becomes easy to isolate the ball and prepare to catch it. At the moment you lock onto the ball, your brain switches its neural-firing pattern—patterns can be isolated or come in bursts of activity—a clear signal that your attention has become focused. They also showed that our brains ramp up their attention before movements, a sort of instinct to get ready to pay attention. This ramping up takes place whether we want it or not, in some cases occurring a full four seconds before we move, which raises the question: are we telling our brains we want to move, or is the decision being made for us?
View this news on the NSERC website: