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Charest Lab

Our mission is to investigate representational idiosyncrasies using visual objects. On this site, you can discover more about us and our work.

CHBH
UoB
European Research Council

About

The Charest lab at the University of Birmingham uses visual objects as a proxy to study aspects of cognition such as perception, consciousness, memory, and decision making.

We use neuroimaging techniques such as functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) and Magneto-Electroencephalography(M-EEG), combined with psychophysical experiments of vision to investigate the brain mechanisms behind these cognitive processes, with a focus on honouring individual representational idiosyncrasies. We also use deep convolutional neuronal networks to further characterise cognition and the brain.

Team

  • Dr. Ian Charest
    Senior Lecturer
    Programme Leader
    Research: Cognitive neuroscience

  • Dr. Jasper van den Bosch
    Postdoctoral Scientist
    Research: Cognitive neuroscience
    web-dev, and Methods

  • Dr. Ludwig Barbaro
    Postdoctoral Scientist
    Research: Cognitive neuroscience
    conscious access

  • Dr. Sara Assecondi
    Postdoctoral Scientist
    Research: Cognitive neuroscience
    and Methods

  • Daniel Lindh
    PhD Candidate
    Research: Cognitive Neuroscience
    conscious access

  • Simon Faghel-Soubeyrand
    PhD Candidate
    Research: Cognitive Neuroscience
    visual features in object recognition

  • Christina Dimitriadou
    PhD Candidate
    Research: Cognitive Neuroscience
    conscious access

  • Eva Bamps
    MSc Candidate
    Research: Cognitive Neuroscience
    perceptual expertise and individual differences

News

June 2018 - We are looking for a PhD student

The lab is looking for bright, motivated individuals interested in doing a PhD in the context of the START ERC Grant.

More details on the topic of the position and on how to apply can be found here: PhD position

June 2018 - The Charest lab attended ASSC22

The lab attended the 22nd internatinal conference of the Association for the Scientific study of consciousness.

This was a great conference, held in the wonderful city of Krakow, Poland. Thanks to the organisers for their efforts.

June 2018 - Ludwig Barbaro joins the lab!

Ludwig Barbaro joins the lab to work on the ERC START grant.

Ludwig is an expert in fMRI, and M/EEG, studies of vision and attention.

May 2018 - Jasper van den Bosch joins the lab!

Jasper van den Bosch joins the lab to work on the ERC START grant.

Jasper is an expert in fMRI, M/EEG, and web-based experiments.

January 2018 - The lab secured an ERC Starting Grant!

START, or "Spatio-Temporal Attention and Representation Tracking" is the latest funded programme of work in the lab. The research programme will be funded by the European Research Council for the next 5 years and will come with many opportunities for postdoctoral and postgraduate researchers to join the lab.

The research will use neuroimaging techniques such as magneto-electroencephalography (M/EEG), functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), computational modelling, and psychophysical experiments to better understand conscious access to visual objects in the human brain.

Latest pre-print is out!

Check out our latest pre-print out on bioRxiv. This is a result of a collaboration with Radoslaw Cichy

In this project, we studied visual representations in the brain, combining MEEG, fMRI, and a complex behavioural task, to investigate the behavioural relevance of brain activity patterns in space and time. Neural dynamics of real-world object vision that guide behaviour.

VSS 2017

We recently attented the visual sciences society in St-Pete Florida, where we presented 3 posters.

The posters/talks cover our research in the temporal dynamics of individually unique object representations, categorical differences in the conscious access to visual objects, and three-way fusion of MEEG/fMRI/behaviour in behaviourally relevant object vision, all using Representational Similarity Analyses.

Current projects and collaborations

Individual differences in brain representations

Everyone is unique, and one challenge of brain imaging is to develop new tools to better understand brain function in individual people.
Pattern across subjects Pattern across stimuli Pattern across voxels
Honoring the unique response of each individual brain, in each cortical patch or column to each particular stimulus. Early neuroimaging studies have focusses on analyses or regional-mean activation, averaging across voxels within a region of interest (e.g. a face region), across stimuli within a given category (e.g. a individual faces), and across individual subjects (black circle above). The field has begun to honour these distinctions, by analysing patterns of activity within each region, responses to single exemplar images, and the variation across individuals. However, only recently have all these components of progress been combined (red circle) in a single study.
Click here to read our paper.
We recently extended and replicated these fMRI results using decoding techniques applied to EEG data, and presented some preliminary results at the Vision Sciences Society conference.

Here is the poster that we presented there:
Revealing the temporal dynamics of individually unique object representations

Relating subjective experience to brain function

An additional aim of brain science, is to explain brain function and relate it to human behaviour. In the lab, we commonly use the multiple arrangements task [Kriegeskorte et al. 2012;Mur et al. 2013;Charest et al. 2014 ] to relate representational dissimilarity matrices (RDMs) constructed from brain activity patterns, to RDMs generated from this behavioural task.

Conscious access to visual objects

An additional focus of the lab, is to investigate higher-level cognitive processes related to attention and consciousness, in object recognition. This focus will be funded from January 2018 by an European Research Council Starting Grant for the next five years.

Here is the poster that Daniel presented at the Vision Sciences Society conference:
Categorical differences in the conscious access to visual objects

Contact us

School of Psychology
College of Life & Environmental Sciences
Hills Building
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston, Birmingham
B15 2TT

E-mail

i.charest@bham.ac.uk