The prefrontal cortex (PFC) is a major challenge in Neurosciences. This brain region controls behavior adaptation and highercognitive functions that are needed for complex social interaction, abstract thinking, reasoning, planning or creativity.
The overall objective of the group is to unravel principles of neural computations underlying sensory-motor integration in thevertebrate brain. We use the zebrafish larva as a model since it currently constitutes the only vertebrate system amenable towhole-brain recording with cellular resolution. Using one- or two-photon light-sheet microscopy, we are able to monitor the long-termactivity of the quasi-entirety of the 100,000 neurons that comprise the animal brain, as it performs basic sensory-motor tasks.
Our team is composed of cognitive scientists working on the neurobiological and psychological foundations of consciousness. We are especially interested in how conscious and unconscious processes differ at both the psychological and neural level. We use various behavioral methods (e.g., priming, psychophysics) and brain imaging techniques (e.g., fMRI, EEG) to study how humans process things unconsciously (e.g., as in situations of subliminal perception, sleep or hypnosis) and compare it to situations of conscious processing.
Our primary interest is to study the neural time course and correlates underpinning the processing of the early stages of social interactions. We have now set out to address several key issues important to our understanding of the processing of social interactions, for example (i) what is the biological function of spontaneous and involuntary facial reactions when facing emotional events; (ii) how and when do we perceive / decide that we are the target of a communicative intention (iii) how we (decide to) prepare an adapted motor response.
The leading thread behind our research can be summed up in this single question:
How can the human genome build a brain that can acquire a language, and other typically human cognitive skills?
We attempt to address this question by studying developmental disorders affecting language and/or social cognition (dyslexia, specific language impairment, autism), at all the relevant levels of description: cognitive, neural and genetic.
Why do we do what we do? We are largely unaware of our own motives. Our team seeks to understand how motivation works, in both the normal and pathological brain. We define motivation as a set of processes that assign values to potential situations so as to drive behavior.
Our research is closely related to the emerging field of neuroeconomics, which is focused on understanding value-based decision-making and on explaining deviations to rationality. We wish to build a comprehensive account of motivational processes, investigating