Cognition in the Light of Perceptual and Behavioral Context

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Title: Cognition in the Light of Perceptual and Behavioral Context
Authors: Plöchl, Michael
Thesis advisor: Prof. Dr. Peter König
Thesis referee: Prof. Dr. Klaus Gramann
Abstract: The cognitive processing of a stimulus does not only depend on the physical properties of the stimulus itself but also on the larger context in which it occurs. In this thesis I will present a number of studies that investigate this context-dependency at different levels of cognition. In particular these levels include (1) sensory processing within a modality, (2) sensory integration across modalities and (3) the relation between sensory perception and motor behavior. Accordingly the chapters in this thesis are partitioned into three larger parts, each of which relates to one of these levels. The first study in Part 1 investigates the role of neural oscillations during perceptual grouping. By measuring EEG during contour integration we were not only able to identify the neural sources involved in this process but also to demonstrate local and long-range synchronization of oscillatory activity within frontoparietal networks. This study is then followed by a more general discussion about the properties of oscillatory activity and how they might relate to event-related potentials. The focus of Part 2 will then be on cross-modal interactions and their possible utilization for real-life applications. First we show that simultaneously presented auditory and tactile cues lead to interactions on both a behavioral and neural level. Subsequently we demonstrate how the observed perceptual effects can be used to optimize auditory and tactile localization performance. Finally we propose a setup for utilizing tactile information to enhance the perceptual interpretation of 360° visual scenes. The third and last part of this thesis is dedicated to problems and applications of measuring EEG in the presence of eye movements. Therefore we use eye tracking to investigate and characterize EEG artifacts resulting from ocular activity. Subsequently we develop an algorithm that allows objectively and reliably identifying these artifacts and removing them from the data without affecting the signal from neural sources. Employing this algorithm we then demonstrate that combined EEG and eye tracking can be used for monitoring and shaping both the gaze behavior and the related brain activity in ASD patients. Next to studying cognition with regard to perceptual and behavioral context, this thesis also focuses on the question how the context-relevant signal components can be identified and extracted from the EEG. In the studies presented here we applied a variety of different strategies to approach this problem. These range from resorting to prior knowledge and analyzing only activity from predetermined cortical sources on the one hand, to purely data driven approaches based on logistic regression or eye tracking information on the other hand.
Subject Keywords: EEG; multimodal integration; sensorimotor coupling; eye movements; context; Independent Component Analysis
Issue Date: 23-Jul-2015
License name: Namensnennung 3.0 Unported
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Type of publication: Dissertation oder Habilitation [doctoralThesis]
Appears in Collections:FB08 - E-Dissertationen

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