OMG. I wasn't expecting this apple to look like an orange inside. How surprising!

We all have expectations about how the how the world should look, feel, smell, taste and sound. When our expectations are violated this signals that something out of the ordinary is happening. 

 

At the level of the neurons in your brain, expectations based on recent sensory experience update the way you actually see the world moment-to-moment, and expectations learned over longer periods of time will shape your perceptual predictions long in to the future. 

 

But what would the world be like if we didn't have any expectations? How would it feel if your expectations were so rigid that no amount of experience could change them? Would everything feel out of the ordinary? Would everything be surprising?

 

The focus of the PaL Lab is to build computational models of how expectations are formed and understand individual differences in this process. This work will translate the same tasks and models from infancy, into adulthood and states of clinical disorder.

CURRENT MAJOR PROJECTS

Cambridge Research into Autism and Anxiety​

Half of all autistic people have a co-occurring anxiety disorder, but it's not clear why autistic people are more prone to anxiety. The CamRAA project aims to understand the similarities and differences between anxiety and autism.  

You can read more about this study here

This project is led by Brónagh and Tim.

Baby PaL

In this project, we will explore how the infant brain learns to build associations between sounds and pictures. Understanding how this learning occurs in typical development may help us to understand more about developmental disorders.

You can read more about this study here

This project is led by Ellie.

ONGOING PROJECTS

Sensory learning in ASD

Currently exploring how people with ASD use the predictive structure in the environment to inform perception and behaviour. We make use of behavioural, neuroimaging and pharmacological manipulations in conjunction with computational modelling to explore this area.

Collaborators: Karl Friston, Christoph Mathys

Adaptive coding mechanisms in ASD

Adaptation is a fundamental process in neural systems in which the neural and behavioural response to a stimulus changes as a function of recent spatial and temporal context. Adaptation changes our perception moment to moment, and this project explores how adaptive coding mechanisms might relate to "sensory overload" in ASD.

Collaborators: Chen Song, Colin Palmer

Confidence in perceptual awareness

When sensory information is noisy or impoverished we feel uncertain what we just saw, but does this uncertainty influence what we expect to see next? This project is using functional neuroimaging in healthy volunteers to explore this question.

Collaborators: Yutaka Komura, Ryota Kanai

The role of the habenula in aversive learning

An ongoing collaboration exploring the role of the habenula in signalling expectations about negative events in major depressive disorder.

Collaborators: Jonathan Roiser

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