Ian P. Howard lecture offers glimpse into vision and the human brain

Brain scan MRI

On Oct. 6, Jack Gallant, a professor from the University of California, Berkley, will be the speaker at this year’s Ian P. Howard Memorial Lecture and Reception, hosted by the York University Centre for Vision Research (CVR). He will give a talk titled “Active Navigation and the Human Brain,” which will be representative of the techniques and types of questions that will be central to the York University Connected Minds research project.

Gallant is a distinguished neuroscientist with expertise on how natural scenes are represented in the human brain. His lecture will provide a unique opportunity to learn about the complex brain networks that underlie vision, language and other cognitive functions. Notably, it will highlight how navigation is a complex and dynamic task that engages multiple brain systems for perception, cognition, planning, decision making and motor control.

During his talk, Gallant will also share results from experiments where participants first learned to navigate through a large virtual city containing hundreds of distinct roads, buildings and landmarks, then performed a taxi driver task in a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner while brain activity was recorded. The results will help describe human functional neuroimaging experiments that overcome many of the limitations of prior navigation studies, and which produce rich computational models that explain human brain function during naturalistic, active navigation.

In addition to representing central elements of the Connected Minds project, recently funded by the Canada First Research Excellence Fund, Gallant’s talk will also continue the Ian P. Howard Memorial Lecture and Reception series’ ongoing commitment to providing high-level talks of general interest by distinguished speakers in vision science. The series was established to bring outstanding world leaders in the field of vision and sensory processing to the CVR at York to speak to, and interact with, members of the centre and other scholars in the field.

The talk, followed by a reception, will be held from 2 to 3:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 6 in the York University Senate Chambers, N940 Ross Building. Further information can be found here: yorku.ca/cvr/wp-content/uploads/sites/90/2023/09/poster-IPH-Gallant-scaled.jpg.