Assistant Professor & 

Wellcome-DBT Intermediate Fellow

Centre For Neuroscience

Adjunct Faculty in Electrical Engineering

Indian Institute of Science

Our senses convey rich and detailed information about the external world, but we can selectively attend to some details while ignoring others. This capacity for selective attention is critical for survival and essential for complex tasks. Problems with controlling and directing attention, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), can impair the ability of individuals to function normally. Understanding the mechanisms of attention is therefore an issue of both basic and clinical interest. Attentional mechanisms have been studied at several different recording scales – from single neurons in monkeys to diffuse population measures such as electro- or magneto-encephalography (EEG/MEG) in humans. However, the relationship between signals recorded from such different scales is poorly understood.

The long-term goal of this research is to elucidate the mechanisms of attention by linking the neural recordings obtained from these vastly different scales. In particular, we focus on particular oscillations in the brain, such as the alpha (~10 Hz) or gamma rhythms (30-80 Hz), which are modulated by the attentional load. This research has four segments. First, we study the relationship between brain rhythms recorded at different scales with the spiking activity of the neurons recorded from monkeys. Second, we study how attention modulates the activity of neurons as well as the brain rhythms. Third, we collaborate with neurosurgeons who record from human brains and make similar recordings in monkeys, and aim to bridge the human and monkey recordings. This has direct applications in the diagnosis of brain disorders and in brain-machine interfaces. Finally, we develop signal-processing tools to study brain signals, which are highly non-stationary and often require special analysis techniques.