Michael Silver, Professor

Closed (1) Individual differences in visual perception following cholinergic enhancement

Closed. This professor is continuing with Fall 2017 apprentices on this project; no new apprentices needed for Spring 2018.

Previous work from our lab indicates that at the group level, inhibiting the breakdown of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine (ACh) reduces the influence of a suppressive surround on visual perception of a center stimulus. At the individual level, however, some subjects exhibit the opposite pattern. For these subjects, increasing levels of cortical ACh instead enhances the influence of the suppressive surround on a center stimulus. This project seeks to determine what factors dictate how cholinergic enhancement will affect visual-spatial integration and perception using psychophysics, fMRI, and human pharmacology.

The research apprentice will be involved in multiple aspects of the project, including data collection (greatest emphasis), data analysis, and discussions about data interpretation. The apprentice will also have the opportunity to attend weekly lab meetings.

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Kelly Byrne, Graduate Student

Qualifications: Interest in neuroscience. Experience with Mac OSX. Experience with MATLAB (or other) programming is recommended.

Weekly Hours: 9-12 hrs

Related website: http://argentum.ucbso.berkeley.edu

Open (2) Prediction’s role in perceptual selection during binocular rivalry

Open. Apprentices needed for the spring semester. Please do NOT contact faculty before February 5th (the start of the 4th week of classes)! Enter your application on the web beginning January 9th. The deadline to apply is Tuesday, January 23rd at 8 AM.

Normally, when people view the world with both eyes open, each of their eyes receive very similar images. However, when each eye is presented with very dissimilar images, people’s perception of the images will not combine the two, but rather transition back and forth between the two, a phenomena called binocular rivalry.

In this project, observers complete psychophysical tasks where they are required to repeatedly view patterns of stimuli made of oriented lines. By viewing these patterns multiple times, observers will implicitly learn these patterns that we hypothesize will influence which orientation they perceive first in binocular rivalry. This project seeks to understand if inducing predictions in our subjects through context causes a change in the initial percept that they then see in binocular rivalry.

The research apprentice will be involved in multiple aspects of the project, including scheduling experimental sessions with participants to run psychophysical tasks, data collection, data analysis, and discussions about data interpretation. The apprentice will also have the opportunity to attend weekly lab meetings.


Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Liz Lawler, Graduate Student

Qualifications: Candidates should have an interest in visual neuroscience. The candidate should be able to work with people and work independently on certain projects. Experience with Python and MATLAB (or other) programming is recommended.

Weekly Hours: 9-12 hrs

Related website: http://argentum.ucbso.berkeley.edu

Closed (3) Cognitive and Brain-state Training

Closed. This professor is continuing with Fall 2017 apprentices on this project; no new apprentices needed for Spring 2018.

The healthy function and success of each person rely on executive control of goal-directed behavior and attention. Attention states include our baseline ability to maintain goals, sustain attention, ignore distracting or task-irrelevant information, and redirect attention back to focus. In the past, attention has been considered to be static, like a trait, rather than something that can be significantly improved. This paradigm is changing, with new studies documenting improvement of working memory and attention with training in perceptual learning, meditation, and video games. However, many studies have failed to show that the benefits of training transfer significantly to non-trained mechanisms and tasks.



Our training program focuses on self-regulation and attention-regulation techniques, with video games as a supplementary training agent aiming to facilitate generalizable transfer of learning and visual mechanisms of attention. The game we use includes naturalistic scenarios that provide an array of well-calibrated and progressive challenges that engage higher-order cognition, allowing for multiple opportunities to practice strategy application in situations that approximate the complexities of real life. We are testing whether this training program will increase individuals’ performance on a wide variety of mechanisms, including selective visual attention, sustained attention, visual working memory, auditory working memory, and complex working memory.

The research apprentice will be involved in scheduling experimental sessions with participants, collecting cognitive data, and checking/evaluation video game data. The research apprentice will also be exposed to and learn about the study design, the analysis, and discussions about data interpretation. The apprentice will also have the opportunity to attend weekly lab meetings.

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Sahar Yousef

Qualifications: Candidates should have an interest in cognitive neuroscience and working with people. The candidate should be able to work independently on certain projects. An interest in either graduate school or clinical practice (working with patients/people) is a plus.

Weekly Hours: 9-12 hrs

Related website: http://argentum.ucbso.berkeley.edu

Closed (4) Neural mechanisms of degraded vision (amblyopia)

Closed. This professor is continuing with Fall 2017 apprentices on this project; no new apprentices needed for Spring 2018.

When the eyes develop abnormally, such as in the case of 'wandering' eye, they can convey conflicting information to the brain. This abnormal visual experience alters the way in which the brain processes visual information and results in impaired or degraded vision. This project investigates brain activity associated with degraded vision using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).



Research assistants will be involved in the analysis of brain imaging data. They will be trained in using analysis software and will learn about neuroanatomy and neuroimaging techniques.



Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Eunice Yang

Qualifications: Basic computer skills are required. Experience with programming and some knowledge of neuroanatomy is desirable but not essential. Students are expected to devote at least 9 hours per week on this project.

Weekly Hours: 9-12 hrs

Related website: http://argentum.ucbso.berkeley.edu