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Research Highlights


TDLC at the 43rd annual meeting of
the Society for Neuroscience (SfN)

The Annual SfN Neuroscience Meeting is the largest neuroscience meeting in the nation. Over 30,000 colleagues from more than 80 countries gather to discuss global neuroscience. Many TDLC investigators and trainees attended this year's event in San Diego on November 9-13, 2013. More

Learning to Solve Problems

It may not be surprising to know that when faced with a problem, adults employ different methods to solve it. But now a tight-knit group of TDLC researchers is uncovering the emergence at young ages of the development and individual differences in problem solving. The ongoing project is led by San Diego State's Judy Reilly, working together with collaborators Marian Bartlett and Gwen Littlewort, UC San Diego, and Zewelangi Serpell, Virginia Commonwealth University. In two years and counting, these women of science have determined that style differences stem from cognitive, social and biological differences and reflect independent developmental trajectories, In other words, just as kids grow differently in other aspects, so do their problem-solving skills develop. More

Gedeon Deak

Several recent publications from the Cognitive Development Lab at UCSD, directed by investigator Gedeon Deak, were co-authored by TDLC trainees Kaya de Barbaro and Marybel Robledo. The papers describe findings and methods relating infants' temporal processing of social and non-social information to the development of language and communication skills. Click here to learn more about the publications

BCI Conference

TDLC researchers present at the 2013 International Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) Conference (June 2013)

TDLC's Scott Makeig, Tim Mullen, Leanne Chukoskie, and Virginia de Sa (among others) recently attended the 2013 International Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) Conference, held on June 3-7, 2013, in Pacific Grove, CA. They were part of a group of scientists who convene annually to discuss scientific advances in the field of BCI -- a technology that links thoughts, commands and emotions from the brain to computers, using EEG. Tim Mullen won Poster Prize for Technical Merit for his poster, "Real-Time Estimation and 3D Visualization of Source Dynamics and Connectivity Using Wearable EEG". More about TDLC's research at the conference

Mozart and the Mind

Mozart & The Mind: TDLC Investigators Participate in a Cutting-Edge Series that explores the Music/Brain connection (May/June 2013)

TDLC investigators Scott Makeig, Tim Mullen, Alex Khalil, Victor Mincez, and John Iversen (with other scientisits and musicians) participated in the Mozart & The Mind Series -- a "unique opportunity to engage with scientists, musicians, and fellow music aficionados around a series of interactive installations exploring connections between music and the brain!" More about the event

Tarr and Lebrecht

Micro-valences: perceiving affective valence in everyday objects
Sophie Lebrecht, Moshe Bar, Lisa Feldman Barrett, and Michael J. Tarr (2013)

New research from Carnegie Mellon University's Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition (CNBC) shows that the brain's visual perception system automatically and unconsciously guides decision-making through something called valence perception. Valence — defined as “the positive or negative information automatically perceived in the majority of visual information” — is a process that allows our brains to quickly make choices between similar objects. The researchers conclude that “everyday objects carry subtle affective valences – ‘micro-valences’ – which are intrinsic to their perceptual representation.” More

Gary Behrmann, Dundas, Plaut

Learning to read may trigger right-left hemisphere difference for face recognition
Marlene Behrmann, Eva Dundas, David Plaut - Carnegie Mellon University

Whereas, in this study, adults showed the expected left and right visual field superiority for face and word discrimination, respectively, the young adolescents demonstrated only the right field superiority for words and no field superiority for faces. Although the children's overall accuracy was lower than that of the older groups, like the young adolescents, they exhibited a right visual field superiority for words but no field superiority for faces. Interestingly, the emergence of face lateralization was correlated with reading competence, measured on an independent standardized test, after regressing out age, quantitative reasoning scores and face discrimination accuracy.

Paula Tallal and Beth Rogowsky

Computer-Based Cognitive and Literacy Skills Training Improves Students' Writing Skills
B. Rogowsky, P. Papamichalis, P., L. Villa, S. Heim, P. Tallal (2013)

A study conducted at Rutgers University finds that cognitive and literacy skills training improves college students' basic writing skills. More

Gary Cottrell

Toward optimal learning dynamics
Garrison W. Cottrell and the Temporal Dynamics of Learning Center

As outlined in a recent Science article coauthored by members of the TDLC and LIFE centers, transformative advances in the science of learning require collaboration from multiple disciplines, including psychology, neuroscience, machine learning, and education. TDLC has implemented this approach through the formation of research networks, small interdisciplinary teams focused on a common research agenda. 

Dan Feldman

A review of STDP by TDLC Investigator Feldman is featured in Neuron
The Spike-Timing Dependence of Plasticity (Neuron, 8/23/12)

It has been 15 years since the discovery of spike timing-dependent plasticity (STDP), which has become a leading candidate mechanism for information storage and learning in the nervous system. This review summarizes our current understanding of STDP, from its varied forms and cellular mechanisms to theoretical properties and to the evidence that it contributes to plasticity and learning in vivo. Read the abstract

Isabel Gauthier

"Sex matters: Guys recognize cars and women recognize birds best"
September 17, 2012

Results published online in the Vision Research journal describe research by Isabel Gauthier and her colleagues that reveal sex effects in object recognition. (The Vanderbilt Expertise Test Reveals Domain-General and Domain-Specific Sex Effects in Object Recognition.) Watch the interview


Cortical Rhythms in the Human Brain During Free Exploration are Linked to Spatial Memory

TDLC researcher Joe Snider, trainee Markus Plank and PI Howard Poizner, along with colleagues Gary Lynch and Eric Halgren, are participating in exciting work in the Motion Capture Lab at UC San Diego. By combining motion capture, virtual reality and high density electroencephalographic recordings (EEG), their goal is to identify neural processes, based on EEG temporal dynamics, that underlie active spatial exploration and memory. In a study funded by a grant from the Office of Naval Research (ONR), subjects actively explore an environment on a virtual aircraft carrier deck presented with a lightweight head-mounted display (HMD) having a total of 12 miniature monitors. The researchers are finding that cortical rhythms in the human brain recorded as subjects freely walk about a large-scale virtual environment predict future memory for the environment. http://vimeo.com/28649538.

Different kinds of visual learning reflect different patterns of change in the brain
In two recent articles, Yetta Wong, Jonathan Folstein and Isabel Gauthier, members of the Temporal Dynamics Learning Center supported by NSF, compared two different kinds of learning traditionally called “perceptual expertise” and “perceptual learning”. More


Let's Face It! and CERT help autistic children (2012)
TDLC's Jim Tanaka (University of Victoria) and Marni Bartlett (UC San Diego's Machine Perception Lab) have joined forces to develop a new state-of the-art intervention treatment to help children with autism. More

Early Interventions: Baby Brains May Signal Later Language Problem (2011)
Research by TDLC investigator April Benasich and team suggests that the way infants only a few months old process sound in their brains is highly predictive of later language development in normally developing children as well as children at risk for language disorders. More






The Gamelan Project: The ability of a child to synchronize correlates with attentional performance (2011)
The gamelan project pilot study demonstrates that the ability of a child to synchronize with an external source in a group setting correlates significantly with established measures of attentional performance. More

Computer-Based Cognitive and Literacy Skills Training Improves Students' Writing Skills (2011)
Research by TDLC investigator April Benasich and team suggests that the way infants only a few months old process sound in their brains is highly predictive of later language development in normally developing children as well as children at risk for language disorders. More

TDLC, Music and the Brain (2011)
There is growing interest among TDLC scientists in the effects of music on the brain.



Partnership between UC San Diego, The Neurosciences Institute, and the San Diego Youth Symphony - Fall 2011. More



SCCN and Music/Brain Research - 2011

Quartet for Brain and TrioTDLC investigator Scott Makeig, Director of Swartz Center for Computational Neuroscience (SCCN), is interested in integrated music into his research. He uses the Brain Computer Interface to read emotions and convert those emotions into musical tones. More

Patients with congenital face blindness outperform controls on
face perception test

Manuscript under review, Neuropsychologia
Collaborators: Avidan, Tanzer & Behrmann

Individuals born with face-blindness (congenital prosopagnosia), while impaired at recognizing familiar faces and even making perceptual judgments about whether two unknown faces are the same or different, are better than matched controls at detecting similarities/differences between parts of two faces in a composite face comparison task. More

Holistic Processing Predicts Face Recognition
Accepted 12/10/10 for publication in Psychological Science

Collaborators: Jennifer J. Richler, Olivia S. Cheung & Isabel Gauthier

The concept of holistic processing (HP) is a cornerstone of face recognition research. We demonstrate that HP predicts face recognition abilities on the Cambridge Face Memory Test and a perceptual face identification task. Our findings validate a large body of work on face recognition that relies on the assumption that HP is related to face recognition. More


Inverted Faces are (Eventually) Processed Holistically (in press)
Collaborators: Jennifer J. Richler, Michael L. Mack, Thomas J. Palmeri & Isabel Gauthier -- Vanderbilt University

Face inversion effects are used as evidence that faces are processed differently from objects. Nevertheless, there is debate about whether processing differences between upright and inverted faces are qualitative or quantitative. More

Pashler, Mozer, Movellan

Dr. April Benasich: Four new papers in press (November/December 2010)

  • Maturation of auditory evoked potentials from 6 to 48 months: Prediction to 3 and 4 year language and cognitive abilities
  • Source localization of event-related potentials to pitch change mapped onto age-appropriate MRIs at 6 months of age
  • Involuntary switching of attention mediates differences in event-related responses to complex tones between early and late Spanish-English bilinguals
  • Reduced sensory oscillatory activity during rapid auditory processing as a correlate of language-learning impairment

Pashler, Mozer, Movellan

The Power of Study and Testing Spacing (November 2010)

Pashler, Mozer, Movellan

Neurons cast votes to guide decision-making (October 2010)
(From Vanderbilt News, October 8, 2010)

Decision making influences the neural dynamics associated with rewarded learning
TDLC-funded study published in NeuroImage (September 25, 2010)

From Lab To Classroom (September 2010)

Music helps explain a paradox in research on faces and Chinese characters (2010)

Recognizing Images Using Fixations (2010)

The Gamelan Project - Exploring music and temporal perception in children (June 2010)

Enhancing facial expression recognition and production in children with autism (May 2010)

A computer vision system automatically recognizes facial expressions of students during problem solving (May 2010)

Our Rich Cognitive Abilities (February 2010)

Ah to be an Expert (February 2010)

Visual Pathways Fine Tuned over Time (February 2010)

Entrainment of Hippocampal Neurons by Theta Rhythm

The Wiring is Not Right: Congenital Prosopagnosia

Adolescents with Autism process faces as wholes but are not sensitive to configuration

Size of Infant's Amygdala Predicts Language Ability

Can You Recognize a Face with a Single Glance?
Task-driven salience: Directing Gaze for Visual Search
Your Lips, Your Eyes, Your Face!

The representation of hand actions in auditory sentence comprehension

Effect Of Gamma Waves On Cognitive And Language Skills In Children

What do we know about the color of men and women?
Machine Perception Lab PhD Student Turns Face Into Remote Control

O'Reilly Workshop on Models of High-Level Vision
The Musical Brain Sees Faster

Temporal Dynamics Learning Center Promotes Discussions on Collaboration