NDSU Visual & Cognitive Neuroscience Center awarded $10.7 million from National Institutes of Health

Sept. 1, 2010 – Fargo, N.D. – A major federal grant will allow North Dakota State University to enhance its cutting-edge research on how the brain processes visual information, how factors such as attention, individual differences and emotion affect visual perception and cognition, and how memory and attention work.

The NDSU Center for Visual and Cognitive Neuroscience (CVCN) has received a five-year, $10.7 million competitive grant renewal from the National Center for Research Resources, a component of the National Institutes of Health.

“This most recent five-year competitive grant renewal from 2010 to 2015 will sustain support for numerous research projects devoted to an enhanced understanding of the brain processes of normal and disordered perception and cognition,” said Dr. Mark E. McCourt, professor of psychology and director of the CVCN at NDSU.

The Center was established in 2004 with an $8.9 million Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) grant award. Faculty, students and staff at the CVCN are engaged in a variety of research projects, including:
· investigating how memory and attention affect cognitive abilities
· how infants process visual information
· how aging affects vision and cognition
· how humans are able to use a type of depth perception called motion parallax
· how hearing and vision are integrated in multimodal working memory which holds small amounts of information in the brain for quick access and action, and
· research on developing devices to aid visually impaired people

Eight NDSU faculty members direct the research projects of the Center. Additional faculty will be recruited to participate in CVCN-funded research through a competitive pilot project mechanism.

McCourt notes that the latest award sustains essential multi-user core laboratory facilities in high-density EEG, immersive virtual reality and driving simulation. The grant also supports graduate and undergraduate students, technical and administrative staff, postdoctoral fellows, and visiting scientists involved in research projects.

In addition to McCourt, the CVCN includes an External Advisory Committee of world-class visual and cognitive neuroscientists: Dr. Randolph Blake, Vanderbilt University; Dr. Christopher Tyler, Smith Kettlewell Eye Research Institute; and Dr. Aina Puce, University of Indiana. An Internal Advisory Committee includes Dr. Barbara Blakeslee, NDSU; Dr. Jonathan Geiger, UND; as well as four Primary Project Directors including Dr. Mark Nawrot, Dr. Michael Robinson, Dr. Wolfgang Teder-Salejarvi, and Dr. Benjamin Balas. Also included are Dr. Barbara Blakeslee, Dr. Linda Langley, Dr. Robert Gordon, Dr. Chris Friesen, and Dr. Rebecca Woods who direct Pilot or Translational Research projects.

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