CNS 2024 | Young Investigator Award Lectures

Congratulations to Peter Kok and Ella Striem-Amit for being awarded the 2024 Young Investigator Award. We look forward to hearing their award lectures at CNS 2024!

About the YIA Award

The purpose of the Young Investigator Award is to recognize outstanding contributions by scientists early in their career. Two awardees are named by the Awards Committee, and are honored at the CNS Annual meeting. This award is sponsored by The Chen Institute.


The neural circuit underlying subjective perception

Peter Kok, Ph.D.

Wellcome Centre for Human Neuroimaging, University College London Queen Square Institute of Neurology, University College London
Monday, April 15, 2024, 1:30 - 2:00 pm, Ballroom Center + West

The way we perceive the world is strongly influenced by our expectations about what we are likely to see at any given moment. However, the neural mechanisms by which the brain achieves this remarkable feat have yet to be established. To understand the neural mechanisms underlying the interplay between sensory inputs and prior expectations, we need to investigate the way these signals flow at the level of cortical circuits, e.g. through the different cortical layers. Until recently, it was not possible to do this in non-invasive studies of humans, because the typical voxel size in fMRI is bigger than the full thickness of the cortex. I will discuss recent work in which we met this challenge by using fMRI at ultra-high field (7T) to obtain BOLD signals at very high resolution to disambiguate signals from the different cortical layers. This approach has allowed us to probe the neural circuitry underlying effects of expectation and subjective perception. I will also discuss the role of the hippocampus as a potential generator of top-down expectation effects in visual cortex, focusing on predictive stimulus representations in hippocampal subfields and informational connectivity with the visual cortex. Together, this work aims to shed new light on the neural circuitry underlying our perception of the world.


Insights from studying people with congenital sensorimotor deprivation

Ella Striem-Amit, Ph.D.

Department of Neuroscience, Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, DC.
Monday, April 15, 2024, 2:00 - 2:30 pm, Ballroom Center + West

What is the balance between nature and nurture in determining the function of cortical areas? A key way to answer this question is by studying people with congenital deprivation. What plasticity is evident when a brain area is deprived from birth of its typical input or outputs, and what can this tell us about cognitive representations? Furthermore, does deprivation affect every deprived brain similarly, or are plasticity patterns diverse across individuals?

I will present a series of studies examining the role of sensory and motor experience and specific sensorimotor features in the neural representations of objects and actions. Combining evidence from studies of people born blind and people born without hands, I will show how plasticity in these individuals’ brains allows us to infer the cognitive abstractness of neural representations along the cortical hierarchies.

Beyond broader patterns of plasticity, I will show evidence for a larger diversity of brain patterns in blindness and deafness, which opens new questions about differential developmental trajectories and functions for the deprived cortex, and how these may affect restoration of function on an individual level.

Throughout, I will highlight the different ways that studying congenital deprivation across domains can illuminate the cognitive neuroscience of the typically developed brain.





Previous Winners


Anna Schapiro, Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania
Freek van Ede, Ph.D., Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam


Oriel FeldmanHall, Brown University
Vishnu "Deepu" Murty, Temple University


Anne Collins, UC Berkeley
Amitai Shenhav, Brown University


Catherine Hartley, New York University
Samuel J. Gershman, Harvard University


Muireann Irish, The University of Sydney, Australia
Michael W. Cole, Rutgers University – Newark


Morgan Barense, University of Toronto
Michael Yassa, University of California, Irvine


Leah Somerville, Ph.D., Harvard University
Nicholas Turk-Browne, Ph.D., Princeton University


Adriana Galvan, UCLA
Joel Voss, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine


Donna Rose Addis, Ph.D., University of Auckland, NZ
Christopher Summerfield, Ph.D., University of Oxford


Daphna Shohamy, Ph.D. , Columbia University
David Badre, Ph.D., Brown University


Uta Noppeney, Ph.D., University of Birmingham, UK
Tor Wager, Ph.D., University of Colorado


Adam Aron, Ph.D., University of California San Diego Roshan Cools, Ph.D., Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour


Michael J. Frank, Ph.D., Brown University
Elizabeth Kensinger, Ph.D., Boston College


Kara Federmeier, University of Illinois
Adam Anderson, University of Toronto


Lila Davachi, New York University
Clayton Curtis, New York University


Charan Ranganath, University of California Davis
Kevin Ochsner, Columbia University
Rebecca Saxe, Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Silvia A. Bunge, University of California
Steven Laureys, MD, University of Liège


Frank Tong, Vanderbilt University
Alumit Ishai, University of Zurich


Sabine Kastner, Princeton University
Kevin LaBar, Duke University


Anthony Wagner, Stanford University
Eleanor Maguire, University College London


Roberto Cabeza, Duke University
Sharon Thompson-Schill, University of Pennsylvania


Isabel Gauthier, Vanderbilt University
Randy Buckner, Washington University Saint Louis