Anne Sereno, Ph.D.Anne B. Sereno, Ph.D.

Professor
Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy
The University of Texas Medical School at Houston

 

 

 

 

Higher Cognitive Functions of Attention, Short-Term Memory, And The Programming Of Eye Movements

We take our everyday abilities very much for granted. Yet these mundane abilities, technically referred to as "higher cognitive functions", constitute an incredibly complex system that researchers are only beginning to understand. One simple way to begin to appreciate these abilities is to consider what happens to those who suffer various types of brain damage (either through accident or disease). In many cases, despite intact general intellectual capabilities, some particular mental ability is severely impaired. They are unable to speak, to remember something from one day to the next, to recognize faces, or to find their way about.

My research focuses on the higher cognitive functions of attention, short-term memory, and the programming of eye movements. I attempt to define the characteristics of these behaviors, search for the underlying physiological mechanism, and develop methods to improve diagnosis, treatment, and outcome in those who suffer from these
deficits. This quest involves examining these behaviors under a variety of conditions: as they normally occur in normal human subjects, as they are disrupted in various clinical populations, as well as while recording from single units in cortex of behaving rhesus monkeys. I strongly feel that the most effective way to attack a problem is to approach it from several different angles. Our research has shown that a better understanding of the characteristics
and underlying physiological mechanisms of these higher cognitive functions can help in the diagnosis, treatment, and etiology of various diseases and disorders involving the disruption of these functions.