Dr Nicholas Price
Lecturer - Department of Physiology
Department of Physiology
Monash University VIC 3800
Room C196, 1st floor annex between Buildings 13F & 13C (Physiology) at Clayton Campus
Tel: +61 3 990 55131
Fax: +61 3 990 52547
As an undergraduate, Nic completed degrees in Electronic engineering and Physiology at the University of Western Australia. From his exposure to the combination of control theory and information theory in engineering and sensory neuroscience in physiology, he became interested in understanding how sensory information from the environment is represented in the brain and how sensory perception could arise from the co-ordinated activity of populations of neurons. After completing his PhD in 2006 with Professor Michael Ibbotson at the Australian National University, Nic worked as a postdoc with Professor Richard Born at Harvard Medical School until 2009. At the start of 2010, Nic returned to Australia as a Lecturer at Monash University.
The laboratory studies how neuronal activity in sensory areas of the brain underlies conscious visual perception and the control of eye movements. We focus on two specific questions:
1) How does sustained exposure to a stimulus (or distribution of stimuli) affect subsequent perception, and what are the neuronal mechanisms that underlie this perceptual “adaptation”?
2) How does the activity of small population of sensory neurons encode visual motion, and how can we decode this population activity to predict perception and behaviour?
Enquiries from potential students and postdocs are always welcome. Experience in electrophysiology, psychophysics, computer programming or Matlab is desirable, but enthusiasm is more important than experience. If you are interested in undertaking a period of research in the laboratory, please email Nic Price.
The influence of stimulus history and task context on neuronal sensitivity and perception
Survival requires analysing a barrage of sensory stimulation from the environment. However, the brain cannot encode every event, requiring strategies for efficient processing of sensory information. By monitoring neuronal activity in animals performing behavioural tasks, we will determine how sensory encoding in the brain depends on stimulus history and task context. We hypothesize that neuronal sensitivity is matched to prevailing stimuli over timescales of milliseconds to seconds, in a manner that enhances perceptual performance. This is similar to a camera automatically adjusting its light sensitivity under different conditions.
Neuronal sensitivity and variability underlying perception and action
Perception and behaviour are often unpredictable. We do not identically perceive repeated stimuli, and even professional athletes cannot precisely replicate their actions. This has implications for survival, which demands accurate responses to a barrage of environmental stimulation. In the brain, sensory information is represented by patterns of electrical activity across populations of neurons, with unique patterns producing different conscious perceptions or actions. Intriguingly, neuronal responses to repeated stimuli are highly variable, suggesting that perceptual and behavioural variability originates in sensory cortex. This project will compare reflexive eye movements, the responses of motion sensitive neurons and behavioural judgements of moving stimuli in order to determine how the variable activity of neuronal populations underlies perception and behaviour.
Developing a cortical visual prosthesis
In collaboration with a consortium of engineers, computer scientists, physiologists and medical doctors based at Monash and in industry, I am involved in the development and testing of a cortically-based visual prosthesis, which will use direct electrical stimulation of the primary visual cortex to return sight to the blind. My contribution to these projects involves determining the optimal parameters for delivering electrical stimulation to multiple electrodes in order to evoke practicable and useful visual perception.
For more details, please see http://www.nicprice.net
Complete publication history- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=price%20ns[auth]
Price NSC, Born RT (2013) Adaptation to speed in macaque middle temporal and medial superior temporal areas. J Neuroscience. 33(10):4359-68.
Price NSC (2013) Overview of Visual System Structure and Function, in The Constitution of Visual Consciousness. Lessons from Binocular Rivalry. Editor Miller, SM. John Benjamins Publishing Company.
Price NSC, Edwards GL.(2012) Accurate reading with sequential presentation of single letters. Front Neurosci. 6:158.
Price NSC, Prescott DL.(2012) Adaptation to direction statistics modulates perceptual discrimination. J Vis. 22;12(6).
Price NSC & Born RT (2010) Timescales of sensory- and decision-related activity in macaque MT/MST. J Neurosci. 30(42):14036-45
Price NSC & Born RT (2009) Representation of movement. In Encyclopedia of Neuroscience, LR Squire, Editor. Oxford: Academic Press.
Ibbotson MR, Crowder NA, Cloherty SL, Price NSC, Mustari MJ. (2008) Saccadic modulation of neural responses: possible roles in saccadic suppression, enhancement, and time compression. J Neurosci. 28(43):10952-60
Crowder NA, Hietanen MA, Price NSC, Clifford CW, Ibbotson MR. (2008) Dynamic contrast change produces rapid gain control in visual cortex. J Physiol. 586(17): 4107-19
Hietanen MA, Crowder NA, Price NSC, Ibbotson MR. (2007) Influence of adapting speed on speed and contrast coding in the primary visual cortex of the cat. J Physiol. 584(2): 451-62
Durant S, Clifford CW, Crowder NA, Price NSC, Ibbotson MR. (2007) Characterizing contrast adaptation in a population of cat primary visual cortical neurons using Fisher information. JOSAA 24(6):1529-37
Ibbotson MR, Crowder NA, Price NSC. (2006) Neural basis of time changes during saccades. Current Biology. 16(19):R834-6
Ibbotson MR, Price NSC, Crowder NA, Ono S, Mustari MJ. (2007) Enhanced motion sensitivity follows saccadic suppression in the superior temporal sulcus of the macaque cortex. Cereb Cortex. 17(5):1129-38
Crowder NA, Price NSC, Hietanen MA, Dreher B, Clifford CWG, Ibbotson MR (2006) Relationship between contrast adaptation and orientation tuning in V1 and V2 of cat visual cortex. J Neurophys 95(1):271-83
Price NSC, Crowder NA, Hietanen MA, Ibbotson MR (2006) Neurons in V1, V2 and PMLS of cat cortex are speed tuned but not accelerated tuned: the influence of motion adaptation. J Neurophys, 95(2):660-73
Price NSC, Ono S, Mustari MJ, Ibbotson MR (2005) Comparing acceleration and speed tuning in macaque MT: physiology and modeling. J Neurophys, 94(5):3451-64
Price NSC, Ibbotson MR, Ono S, Mustari MJ (2005) Rapid processing of retinal slip during saccades in macaque area MT. J Neurophys 94(1): 235-46