Seminar Friday, November 13


Paul Sajda, Ph.D.
Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Radiology
Columbia University



Capturing the "Aha" Moment: Neural Dynamics of Attentional Orienting in the Human Brain”



Events ranging from internal revelations to external threats cause our brain to re-orient its attention, generating what may be commonly called an "aha" moment. In this talk I will discuss our work that uses multimodal neuroimaging to capture the spatiotemporal dynamics leading to this “aha" moment. Specifically I will describe our use of simultaneous EEG and fMRI, coupled with multi-variate statistical inference, to tease apart the time course of spatial activation patterns. Using pupillometry and computational model as additional validation, I will show that our results support the central role of the locus coeruleus-norepinephrine (LC-NE) system in attentional reorienting and its interaction with the P300 network and the ventral attention network. The second part of my talk will focus on potential uses of these dynamics in developing new types of brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) which leverage our ability to non-invasively capture moments of re-orienting. I will discuss these BCIs both with respect to their potential for widespread commercial application as well as assist devices for those with memory deficits or deficits in attention.



Paul Sajda is Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Radiology at Columbia University. He is  Director of the Laboratory for Intelligent Imaging and Neural Computing (LIINC) and Co-Director of Columbia's Center for Neural Engineering and Computation (CNEC).  His research focuses on neural engineering, neuroimaging, computational neural modeling and machine learning applied to the study of rapid decision making in the human brain. Prior to Columbia he was Head of The Adaptive Image and Signal Processing Group at the David Sarnoff Research Center in Princeton, NJ. He received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from MIT and his M.S. and Ph.D. in Bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania. He is a recipient of the NSF CAREER Award, the Sarnoff Technical Achievement Award, and is a Fellow of the IEEE and the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE).  He is currently  the Editor-in-Chief for the IEEE Transactions in Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering and a member of the IEEE Technical Committee on Neuroengineering. He has been involved in several technology start-ups and is a co-Founder and Chairman of the Board of Neuromatters, LLC., a neurotechnology research and development company.