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Traveling brain waves help detect hard-to-see objects

Salk scientists discover patterns of neural waves in the awake brain that help detect objects
October 7, 2020

Top from left: Zac Davis and Terrence Sejnowski. Bottom from left: Lyle Muller and John Reynolds. Image credit: Salk Institute

Imagine that you’re late for work and desperately searching for your car keys. You’ve looked all over the house but cannot seem to find them anywhere. All of a sudden you realize your keys have been sitting right in front of you the entire time. Why didn’t you see them until now?

Now, a team of Salk Institute scientists led by Professor John Reynolds has uncovered details of the neural mechanisms underlying the perception of objects. They found that patterns of neural signals, called traveling brain waves, exist in the visual system of the awake brain and are organized to allow the brain to perceive objects that are faint or otherwise difficult to see. The findings were published in Nature on October 7, 2020.