2011 Young Investigator – Alexander C. Huk

Alexander C. Huk

Neurobiology & Center for Perceptual Systems
The University of Texas at Austin

Dr. Alexander C. Huk has been chosen as the 2011 winner of the Elsevier/VSS Young Investigator Award. Dr. Huk is an Associate Professor of Neurobiology in the Center for Perceptual Systems at the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Huk impressed the committee with the broad range of techniques he has brought to bear on fundamental questions of visual processing and decision making. Studying both human and non-human primates with psychophysical, electrophysiological and fMRI approaches, Dr. Huk has made significant, influential and ground-breaking contributions to our understanding of the neural mechanisms involved in motion processing and the use of sensory information as a basis for perceptual decisions. His contributions are outstanding in their breadth as well as their impact on the field and represent the uniqueness of the VSS community to integrate behavioral and neural approaches to vision science.

Elsevier/Vision Research Article

Some new perspectives in the primate motion pathway

Sunday, May 8, 7:00 pm, Royal Palm Ballroom

The dorsal (“where”) stream of visual processing in primates stands as one of the most fruitful domains for bridging neural activity with perception and behavior. In early stages of cortical processing, neurophysiology and psychophysics have elucidated the transformations from dynamic patterns of light falling upon the retinae, to simple 1D motion signals in primary visual cortex, and then to the disambiguated 2D motions of complex patterns and objects in the middle temporal area (MT). In later stages, the motion signals coming from MT have been shown to be accumulated over time in parietal areas such as LIP, and this decision-related activity has been quantitatively linked to behavioral outputs (i.e., the speed and accuracy of perceptual decisions). In this talk, I’ll revisit this pathway and suggest new functions in both the visual and decision stages. In the first part, I’ll describe new results revealing how 3D motion is computed in the classic V1-MT circuit. In the second part, I’ll address whether LIP responses are really a “neural correlate” of perceptual decision-making, or instead reflect a more general type of sensorimotor integration. These lines of work suggest that by building on the already well-studied primate dorsal stream, both psychophysics and physiology can investigate richer perceptual functions and entertain more complex underlying mechanisms.