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Jonathan D. Victor; Symposia introduction. Journal of Vision 2009;9(8):23. doi: 10.1167/9.8.23.
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The idea for this symposium emerged out of a discussion between the submitter and Steve Shevell at the 2008 meeting as a way to increase the participation of neurophysiologists at VSS. The theme of the symposium is the importance of analyzing the time course of neural activity for understanding behavior. Given the very obviously spatial nature of vision, it is often tempting to ignore dynamics, and to focus on spatial processing and maps. As the speakers in this symposium will show, dynamics are in fact crucial: even for processes that appear to be intrinsically spatial, the underlying mechanism often resides in the time course of neural activity. The symposium brings together prominent scientists who will present recent studies that exemplify this unifying theme. Their topics will cover the spectrum of VSS, both anatomically and functionally (retinal ganglion cell population coding, striate cortical mechanisms of contrast sensitivity regulation, extrastriate cortical analysis of shape, and frontal and collicular gaze control mechanisms). Their work utilizes sophisticated physiological techniques, ranging from large-scale multineuronal ex-vivo recording to intracellular in vivo recording, and employs a breadth of analytical approaches, ranging from information theory to dynamical systems. Via these choices, the symposium is expected to be both scientifically exciting and to accomplish its programmatic goal. The broad range of the specific topics and approaches was chosen to spark the interest of many VSS members who are not physiologists, and to maximize the likelihood that they will find specific relevance to their own research. The unifying theme of dynamics was chosen because it is critical to behavior and because in many instances (as in the proposed talks), it is best accessed by physiological means. Three of the four speakers are not usually VSS participants, and all have established laboratories and represent scientific communities whose fuller participation in VSS will substantially help the Society maintain its foothold in neurophysiology, so that it can continue to be a vibrant, multidisciplinary meeting.
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