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Rodrigo Quian Quiroga

Dr Rodrigo Quian Quiroga

Dr Rodrigo Quian Quiroga

Research Fellow

Interests and expertise (Subject groups)

Grants awarded

Study of complex brain processes with single cell recordings in humans.

Scheme: Wolfson Research Merit Awards

Organisation: University of Leicester

Dates: Nov 2010-Oct 2015

Value: £50,000

Summary: My research deals with the study of how neurons give rise to different brain functions. To study these principles of neural coding, the gold standard in Neuroscience is to record the activity of different neurons by using very thin electrodes implanted into animals’ brains. In very particular cases, these recordings are done in subjects suffering from epilepsy refractory to medication, who are implanted with intracranial electrodes for clinical reasons. This allows the extraordinary opportunity to study directly the neural correlates of different brain functions in conscious humans that can give direct feedback of their perception and behavior. In this respect, I study the responses of these neurons in visual perception and memory tasks, focusing on how they abstract information, create associations and episodic memories (e.g. watching a movie with a friend at the cinema). The study of high-level brain functions requires dealing with massive amounts of complex data. In this respect, a main line of my research deals with the development of methodologies to study these recordings. A first goal is to separate the activity of as many neurons as possible from the data registered by each electrode, what is named ‘spike sorting’. A second goal is to make sense of the data from large number of neurons using what is called ‘decoding algorithms’. Although the technical details of decoding algorithms can be complicated, the idea is quite simple: given the firing of many neurons, we try to predict the sensory input or behaviour (e.g. moving an arm) that triggered this activity. The possibility of predicting behavior from the neural activity has clinical application for the development of Neural Prosthesis, such as a robot arm for paralyzed patients or amputees that can be controlled directly from firing of neurons.

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