Bilal Haider, assistant professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University, was awarded a three-year Whitehall Foundation Grant. The Whitehall Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation focused exclusively on assisting basic research in vertebrate (excluding clinical) and invertebrate neurobiology in the United States.
With this grant, Haider’s project seeks to understand how specific neurons across layers of the visual cortex coordinate their activity during behavioral tasks that require detection of visual stimuli. There is much knowledge about the circuits and mechanisms underlying vision, but an outstanding challenge is to study circuits and mechanisms during well-defined visual behaviors. Such studies would allow detailed measurement of visual response modulation caused by cognitive factors, such as attention and anticipation of reward.
“We are very excited to have the support of the Whitehall Foundation for this work. This award will help us identify how mysterious things like attention and anticipation arise from the electrical activity of defined neural circuits,” said Haider.
Overall, his lab’s research goal is to identify cellular and circuit mechanisms that modulate neuronal responsiveness in the cerebral cortex in vivo. His work showed for the first time that synaptic inhibition powerfully controls the spatial and temporal properties of visual processing in the awake cortex.
Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering
Georgia Institute of Technology