Colgate University Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience Bruce Hansen wants to understand how we view the world around us, from the inside.
“Your experiences define a lot of how you currently perceive the world,” Hansen said.
Hansen said people have been trying to extract images from brains for around 15 years through a different method, but what he’s doing with electroencephalogram testing is more detailed.
The testing allows a preview of how neurons in the brain change over time as we process an image, which is different for everyone, as we all process and interpret imagery uniquely.
“EEG enables you to measure at a fine timescale how those neuro-responses are changing, so you can observe the evolution of visual information," Hansen said.
Hansen is collecting and combining his research in collaboration with several professors from other institutions.
Here's how it works.
In the experiment, a participant will put on a net that measures their brain’s activity. The subject is quickly shown images in a dark, quiet room and their brain waves are monitored as they look at them.
“My passion is to understand how the brain is doing this. How do I internalize something in our environment, and how do I make sense out of it so that I can actually do something intelligent?" Hansen said. "That’s my main goal here. So all of the work in the lab is focused on just basic science; understanding what the brain is doing. Applications are many.”
Hansen's research is funded through the James S. McDonnell Foundation award, making him the first Colgate professor to receive it. The award will fund the next six to eight years worth of lab work, which involves the participation of dozens of students.