Neuropsychology Psychology 162, Fall 2008
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Final Laboratory Project
Description of the Laboratory
One of the goals for the LADRs is to introduce students to some of the varied research methods associated with different disciplines of inquiry. In the Natural World LADR it is a requirement to design and conduct your own research project. It is not possible to actually do many acctual studies in Neuropsychology at the undergraduate level, so we will be again using a simulation to examine the brain. As in the second laboratory, we will be looking at the visual cortex. You will have access to a region of cortex and your goal will be to design a set of procedures to allow you to discover how the visual cortex is organized.
Goals for the Laboratory
Go back to the chapter in the text on the visual system and reread it. Briefly, Hubel and Wiesel (e.g., 1959, 1962, 1968) in several brilliant studies began the uncovering of the organization of the brain. As you recall, anatomy precedes physiology. To understand the functioning of the visual cortex, We need to start with the organization of the brain to build. In this case, the study of the physiology (behavior) of the neurons of the visual cortex was instrumental in uncovering this anatomy.
Hubel and Wiesel (1959) started with the discovery of simple and complex cells. We covered that in the second laboratory. But that is only the beginning. These cells are not arranged randomly in the brain. They and the other researchers that followed them found the brain arranged into groups of columns Hubel and Wiesel (1962, 1968) called hypercolumns. In each column, all the cells were all of the same orientation and eye preference. In one direction, the columns change orientation, by about 10 deg steps, and in the other direction, the columns alternated eye preference. The locations of the receptive fields in each column overlapped and each hypercolumn responded to adjacent areas of the retina.
Directions for the Laboratory
In this project, your goal is to determine the layout of the cortex. The simulated cortex is organized similarly to the cortex, but not identical. It can vary in certain ways. Moreover, different groups will have different organizations of their visual cortex.
First, load this PowerPoint to review how the program works and the structure of the interface that you will be dealing with.
The brain region you are studying is the right striate cortex. The fovea is on the extreme left side of the striate cortex but in the middle vertically just like the actual brain. For your study, both eyes are always being stimulate so you will not be able to determine if a cell prefers one eye or the other.
So you are to first develop a research plan in conjunction with the instructor to investigate and identify the structure of your brain. Note some important limitations, similar to actual research, that are embedded in the program.
You will be emailed the link to your brain.
Hubel, D. L., & Wiesel, T. N. (1959). Receptive fields of single neurones in the cat's striate cortex. Journal of Physiology, 148, 574-591.
Hubel, D. L. & Wiesel, T. N. (1962). Receptive fields, binocular interaction and functional architecture in the cat's visual cortex. Journal of Physiology, 160, 106-154.
Hubel, D. L. & Wiesel, T. N. (1968). Receptive fields and functional architecture of monkey striate cortex. Journal of Physiology, 195, 215-243.