How do we make sense of the world around us?
Our understanding of the world depends on our ability to combine its individual elements into a meaningful whole. For example, to make sense of language, we must combine the meanings of individual words, and to make sense of visual events, we must combine the meanings of individual objects and scenes.
- When and where does the build-up of a gestalt take place in the healthy brain?
- Is the sequence of brain activity mediating this process abnormal in schizophrenia?
Our lab is addressing these questions by using a cognitive neuroscience approach. In order to investigate “when” and “where”, we are using multimodal imaging techniques. Event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) detects brain activity with precise spatial (millimeter) resolution. Event-related potentials (ERPs) and magneto-encephalography (MEG) detects brain activity with precise temporal (millisecond) resolution. We are attempting to integrate these techniques to give new insights into the spatiotemporal dynamics of normal and abnormal brain function.
Patients with schizophrenia have difficulties in building up such a coherent gestaldt. These abnormalities may lead to its core symptoms – thought disorder (the disorganization of thought and language), verbal hallucinations (misperceptions of thought and language) and delusions (misinterpretations of the world around us).