University of Utah electrical and computer engineering department assistant professor Neda Nategh was recently awarded the National Institutes of Health Grant for her research on deciphering the neural code of dynamic vision. The $2 million NIH National Eye Institute grant will fund research in Nategh’s lab for at least the next five years.

“I am thrilled to be awarded the NIH original, major funding as my very first NIH grant. It is not about the funding, but rather being given an opportunity as a computational lab to contribute a step forward in answering one of the oldest and venerable questions in systems neuroscience,” Nategh said.

Nategh’s lab, the Vision Computation Lab, focuses on investigating the neural computations and circuitry underlying visual perception with constant eye movements.

“Understanding how our visual system interpolates the visual scene across eye movements, three times a second, to contribute to the ‘illusion of vision’ is a necessary step in understanding vision as a constructive process,” Nategh said.

With this research Nategh plans to gain a better understanding of not only normal vision but of disorders involving impaired integration of information across eye movements such as schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, dyslexia and autism spectrum disorders.

Using an interdisciplinary approach to integrate neuroscience and computational sciences Nategh’s aims to investigate the brain’s encoding and decoding mechanisms to understand natural vision as well as innovating brain-inspired algorithms to advance computational vision.

“As a computational neuroscience lab working at the interface of brain physiology and engineering,” said Nategh, “one goal of the funded research is to facilitate a huge leap forward in developing biologically-plausible decoding algorithms for visual and cognitive brain-machine interface and prosthetic systems.”

Nategh would like to contribute the success of this grant to the support of University of Utah’s Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and ECE department, collaborator Dr. Noudoost an OVS Associate Professor, and the talented researchers in the lab, especially the very first ECE Ph.D. graduate from the lab, Dr. Akbarian.

Learn more about Nategh’s lab here.