Date(s) - 10/08/2019
4:30 pm - 5:30 pm

Join us on Tuesday, October 8th, 2019 for a Community Seminar given by NYU Research Scientist Noah Benson, titled “Modeling the visual cortex: from populations of neurons to populations of humans”.

The seminar will be from 4:30-5:30 PM in PAA A118, and is open to the public.

Across individuals, the size and shape of the brain is relatively conserved, varying in size by a factor of approximately 1.5 across the population. Primary visual cortex (V1), the earliest cortical area responsible for processing visual inputs, however, can vary by a factor of at least 3.5 between individuals with normal vision. In fact, although brain areas in the visual cortex have highly consistent topological organizations across individuals, variation in the folding patterns of the cortex itself is large, making comparison and description of these brain areas difficult both in early sensory cortex as well as higher cortical regions. In this talk I will demonstrate how my research into the anatomical structure and visual function of the three largest visual areas (V1, V2, and V3) can be used to quantify the relationship between the organization of functionally-defined brain areas and brain anatomy. I will demonstrate how tools derived from this research can be used to predict neural responses to visual images based on brain anatomy alone and to quantify the degree to which differences between the visual cortices of individuals correspond to differences in their brains’ anatomical structures. Finally I will discuss the Human Connectome Project and how public neuroscience datasets like it can be used in conjunction with these methods. Together these datasets and tools can provide a rich source of information about the brain’s anatomical structure and can be leveraged to better understand the brain’s function.

Noah C. Benson is a research scientist at New York University who studies the organization of the human visual system. Noah obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Washington’s Biomedical Informatics and Medical Education department (2005-10) where he studied the analysis and organization of molecular dynamics simulations in the lab of Dr. Valerie Daggett. Upon graduation, Noah transitioned to a postdoctoral role in the visual neuroscience laboratories of Drs. David Brainard and Geoff Aguirre at the University of Pennsylvania (2010-14). While at Penn, Noah demonstrated that the anatomical structure of the early visual cortex was highly predictive of its visual function and published tools for predicting this function in an individual’s brain based on the brain’s anatomy alone. These tools remain in wide use today and have saved vision researchers around the world many thousands of dollars in study expenses. In 2014, Noah moved to the lab of Jonathan Winawer at New York University, where he continues to work on methods for describing models of the brain’s function on the folded surface of the visual cortex. Noah is the primary author of the Human Connectome Project 7 Tesla Retinotopy Dataset, the world’s largest public dataset of measurements of the human brain’s visual organization, as well as a number of open source tools (e.g., Neuropythy) designed to help researchers navigate the complex space of neuroscientific data.