One important goal of psychology and neuroscience is to understand the brain mechanisms mediating natural behaviour. However, this is a challenging problem because natural behaviour often involves many different perceptual, motor and cognitive systems distributed broadly across the brain. Prof. Gallant’s lab has developed a new approach to functional brain mapping that recovers detailed information about the cortical maps mediating natural behaviour. Their results show that even simple natural behaviours involve dozens or hundreds of distinct functional gradients and areas; that these are organised similarly in the brains of different individuals; and that top-down mechanisms such as attention can change these maps on a very short time scale.
Prof. Jack Gallant is the Chancellor's Professor of Psychology at the University of California at Berkeley, USA. His research programme focuses on computational modelling of the human brain. These models accurately describe how the brain encodes information during complex, naturalistic tasks, and they show how information about the external and internal world are mapped systematically across the surface of the cerebral cortex. These models can also be used to decode information in the brain in order to reconstruct mental experiences. Prof. Gallant's brain decoding algorithm was one of Times Magazine's Inventions of the Year in 2011. He also appears frequently on radio and television.