THE NEURAL MECHANISMS OF INTELLIGENCE
We study how the brain creates intelligence. Specifically, we focus on how the cortex constructs a representation of the environment: How is this representation learned? How is it encoded in the activity of neural networks? How is it used to control intelligent behaviour?
What is the role of mammalian cortex? Evolution clearly suggests that this area of the brain is important for intelligent behaviour, but what exactly does it do?
The Kampff Group develops new assays to identify, characterize, and classify behaviours that require cortex. These assays introduce controlled complexity into an environment to recreate challenges encountered in the natural world, the actual challenges that nervous systems evolved to overcome. Our teleology projects provide the conceptual foundation for the lab's research; we believe that it will be much easier to understand how cortex works when we have a better idea about what it does.
An image overlay of a rat playing a videogame. The game’s goal is to collect spots of light that move throughout and interact with both a physical and virtual environment.
The Kampff Group also develops the tools required to understand how cortex functions; tools that allow us to monitor and manipulate cortical activity at a network scale. We are now testing novel devices for simultaneously recording from large populations of neurons throughout the brain. These devices are built with modern techniques for microfabrication (CMOS) and have the potential to record the electrical activity of thousands of individual neurons simultaneously.
Recording with a 1400 channel scanning CMOS neural probe developed by the NeuroSeeker project. The raw electrical signal detected by each electrode (row) is displayed as a colour intensity for each 50 microsecond sample (column). This image shows 100 milliseconds of data recorded simultaneously in cortex, hippocampus, and thalamus.