Dorothy J Killam Lecture: Complex Pattern Recognition: Are Two Half-Brains Better Than One?

Tuesday, April 9, 2024 16:00to17:00
Montreal Neurological Institute de Grandpre Communications Centre, 3801 rue University, Montreal, QC, H3A 2B4, CA

The Neuro's Dorothy J. Killam Lecture was established in 2004 to recognize women of influence in business, science, politics or the humanities. Professor Marlene Behrmann will deliver the 2024 Dorothy J. Killam Lecture entitled, "Complex Pattern Recognition: Are Two Half-Brains Better Than One?" A cocktail reception will follow.

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Marlene Behrmann

Professor, Department of Ophthalmology, University of Pittsburgh Medical School, USA


The study of cerebral organization, including differences in hemispheric structure and function, have a longstanding history in Cognitive Neuroscience. With regard to visual perception, one view has asserted that, in ventral occipitotemporal cortex, there are independent and largely lateralized domain-specific regions, which are specialized for the recognition of distinct classes of objects. I will offer an alternative account of the organization of the hemispheres, and their contribution to complex pattern recognition. Drawing on evidence from neuropsychological, computation and neuroimaging studies in health and disease, I will propose that the hemispheric arrangement emerges through the interaction of three computational principles: distributed representations and knowledge, cooperation and competition between representations, and a topographic bias favoring spatial proximity. The crux of the account is that visual recognition results from the interactive engagement of a network of regions, which is distributed within and across both hemispheres, and which evince graded functional specialization. Data will be used to test predictions such as specific collaborative and competitive synergies of hemispheric biases that play out over the course of development and the extent to which a single hemisphere might suffice for recognition. Last, I will lay out open questions which will, undoubtedly, occupy the field into the future.

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The Neuro (Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital) is a bilingual academic healthcare institution. We are a McGill research and teaching institute; delivering high-quality patient care, as part of the Neuroscience Mission of the McGill University Health Centre. We are proud to be a Killam Institution, supported by the Killam Trusts.



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