Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

About the PNAS Member Editor
Name Desimone, Robert
Location Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Primary Field Systems Neuroscience
 Election Citation
Desimone is an expert in the organization of attention and memory in the primate brain. His attention model explains many psychological phenomena of attention in terms of receptive field structure. His studies of memory storage have identified distinct modes of neural responding that involve response suppression or response potentiation.
 Research Interests
The overall goal of my research has been to understand the neurobiological basis of memory and attention, particularly in the visual modality. To that end, I have helped map areas in the cerebral cortex that play a role in the visual recognition of objects and then studied how the activity of neurons in these areas change while animals are engaged in tasks that tax both their memory and attention. My coworkers and I have identified some of the different neural mechanisms that bias competitive interactions in favor of behaviorally relevant stimuli. As a result of these competitive biases, the neural representations of irrelevant stimuli are suppressed, allowing relevant stimuli to be fully processed and stored in memory. Most recently, we have been studying these same problems using functional brain imaging in humans and have so far identified many of the same mechanisms that operate in animals.

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