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MacArthur Neuroscience Fellow Draws SRO Crowd

Doris Tsao addressed, 'How the Brain Represents Objects'

Doris Tsao, PhD, Professor of Biology at Cal Tech and an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, drew a standing-room-only crowd to the DIBS Multipurpose Room on March 20. She addressed, "How the Brain Represents Objects."

Objects constitute the fundamental currency of the brain: they are things that we perceive, remember, and think about. One of the most important objects for a primate is a face. Research on the macaque face patch system in recent years has given us a remarkable window into the detailed processes underlying object recognition. Dr. Tsao discussed recent findings from her lab elucidating the code for face and object identity in the temporal lobe, and how this code is used by downstream areas. She also discussed the general problem of how the brain builds a model of the world, and how we are leveraging our access to a hierarchical network for encoding object identity to gain new insight into this problem.

Dr. Tsao received a 2018 MacArthur Fellowship in Neuroscience. She is a systems neuroscientist studying the neural mechanisms underlying primate vision. She and her group aim to discover how the brain "stitches together" individual pixels of light—the photons hitting our retinas—to create the visual experience of discrete and recognizable objects in space.