Our brains have the capability of not only understanding others’ actions, but even predicting their future course of action, based on circumstantial evidences. For instance, if we see someone sitting on the lunch table with bread, jam and butter, we can reasonably predict that he is going to spread the butter on one slice, jam on the other, make a sandwich and eat it.
Predictive coding theory suggests that such predictions are made well in advance (several milliseconds) in “hierarchically higher” brain areas and sent backwards to primary sensory areas, before we even see the action happen. If this were true, we would see a feedback flow of information from higher brain regions to lower brain regions.
I use ultra-high-field (7 Tesla) functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to visualize the naturally segregated feedback and feedforward connection in the cortical laminae of different brain regions. Using functional Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (fMRS), I am also interested in understanding the neurotransmitter dynamics associated with action prediction.
Ritu completed her Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in biology and biotechnology in India. Her Master’s dissertation was on the project “Proteomic regulation in rat hippocampus following immobilization stress” at TIFR, Mumbai, India, under the supervision of Prof. Gotam Jarori. She obtained her PhD for her thesis entitled “Perception of infant cues: the role of childhood experiences and oxytocin” from the Department of Child and Family Studies, Leiden University, the Netherlands, with Prof. Marinus van IJzendoorn and Prof. Marian Bakermans-Kranenburg. In 2015 she joined the Social Brain Lab as a Postdoc under Prof. Christian Keysers and Dr. Valeria Gazzola, for studying the neural mechanisms of Action Understanding in humans.
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