Prof. Avi Karni
Sagol Department of Neurobiology
Using behavioral (visual and auditory psychophysics, kinematics and response time measurements) and brain imaging (fMRI) techniques, the lab members’ primary focus is on studying what drives the ability of the human brain to change with experience and establish effective long-term memory. Thus, we ask questions such as: where in the brain, when and under what conditions do long-lasting experience-dependent changes (memory) occur; what makes an effective learning experience; how do time, sleep and later experience, that come after a successful learning experience, affect the consolidation of the learning experience into long-term memory; are children (before puberty) really better than adults in acquiring and retaining skills? (We think they are not.) Much of the work is concerned with motor sequence learning (as in handwriting, typing and playing musical instruments) but we are interested in the question: are complex tasks (learning to use invented language rules, reading, arithmetic knowledge, solving the Tower of London task) acquired and retained in long-term memory in similarity to ‘simple’ perceptual and motor skills? Other lab members address skill (motor as well as higher cognitive) learning abilities in individuals with developmental learning disabilities and in acquired brain disorders. For example, can we train the dyslexic brain to read fluently? Another ongoing project of the lab members over recent years addresses the representation of linguistic material in the auditory and visual systems, asking questions about cross sensory-modality and multi-sensory effects (can the visual cortex hear?) and the effects of prosody (intonation) on word representation in the auditory system.