Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology
My interest is in how the cerebral cortex mediates cognitive experience. My current work focuses on spatial cognition in monkeys and humans. This is an appealing problem for two reasons. First, it encompasses a wide range of cognitive processes including perception, attention, short term memory and the generation of action. Each of these cognitive processes contributes to the construction of internal representations of space. Second, spatial cognition is a faculty shared by humans and nonhuman primates and can be usefully studied in each. In humans, I use functional imaging techniques to observe frontal and parietal cortex activation during visuospatial performance. In monkeys, recordings from individual cortical neurons reveal the specific aspects of information processing carried out by different types of neurons during spatial tasks.
My research has revealed that there are fundamental parallels between a subject's awareness of the environment and neural activity in parietal cortex. Parietal neurons encode not only the locations of visible stimuli but also the locations of anticipated and remembered stimuli. The key to parietal function is the recognition that it underlies visual attention. Moreover, it contains multiple representations of space, each of which is designed to serve distinct attentional and sensorimotor goals. Current research focuses on the mechanisms that produce these action-oriented spatial representations, as described in http://www.cnbc.cmu.edu/research-colby
Some of my publications can be found here.