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Dr Peter Kok awarded the 2024 Young Investigator Award by the Cognitive Neuroscience Society

Congratulations to Dr Peter Kok, who has received the 2024 Young Investigator Award from the Cognitive Neuroscience Society (CNS).

The Young Investigator Award aims to acknowledge remarkable achievements made by scientists in the early stages of their careers. Each year, The Awards Committee selects two recipients who are then recognised at the CNS Annual meeting.

Peter is a Principal Investigator at the Wellcome Centre for Human Neuroimaging, where he leads the Visual Perception group. The group’s work investigates visual perception through advanced neuroimaging methods, to reveal the neural mechanisms whereby prior knowledge influences perception. These insights may help us to understand how the brain constructs our rich experience of the visual world, and may ultimately shed some light on how perception can go awry in clinical disorders such as psychosis.

Upon receiving the award, Peter said:

“It is an incredible honour to receive this award, especially given the presence of many of my scientific heroes among the previous awardees. I am very grateful to the committee and to the scientists I have been lucky enough to work with, without whom I could not have done any of the work that led to this honour.”

At CNS 2024, Peter will present an award lecture, The neural circuit underlying subjective perception’. The abstract is as follows:

“The way we perceive the world is strongly influenced by our expectations about what we are likely to see at any given moment. However, the neural mechanisms by which the brain achieves this remarkable feat have yet to be established. To understand the neural mechanisms underlying the interplay between sensory inputs and prior expectations, we need to investigate the way these signals flow at the level of cortical circuits, e.g. through the different cortical layers. Until recently, it was not possible to do this in non-invasive studies of humans, because the typical voxel size in fMRI is bigger than the full thickness of the cortex. I will discuss recent work in which we met this challenge by using fMRI at ultra-high field (7T) to obtain BOLD signals at very high resolution to disambiguate signals from the different cortical layers. This approach has allowed us to probe the neural circuitry underlying effects of expectation and subjective perception. I will also discuss the role of the hippocampus as a potential generator of top-down expectation effects in visual cortex, focusing on predictive stimulus representations in hippocampal subfields and informational connectivity with the visual cortex. Together, this work aims to shed new light on the neural circuitry underlying our perception of the world.”

Congratulations Peter!