Rufin Vanrullen

The Project

Perceptual and attentional dynamics: Periodic operations of the brain


Dr. Rufin VanRullen
CNRS – UMR 5549
Centre de Recherche Cerveau et Cognition
31062 Toulouse Cedex 9

Rufin VanRullen, aged 33, and French citizen, is a CNRS researcher at the Centre de Recherche Cerveau et Cognition in Toulouse where he received the “Médaille de Bronze du CNRS” in 2007. 

Following his cognitive science doctorate at Paul Sabatier University in Toulouse, Dr. VanRullen joined the California Institute of Technology to complete his post doctoral studies, and later became a visiting scholar at Harvard. He has written more than 30 papers in international journals on neural computing and vision science, which have been cited 500 times.

Project Description

Much research effort in Neuroscience is spent on the study of neuronal oscillations, which are thought to play a crucial role in the construction of perceptual representations. However, very little is known about the “flip side” of this coin: oscillations must also limit the rate at which such perceptual representations can be built over time. Understanding these limits and their relation to various behavioral tasks is the challenge that VanRullen and his team propose to take on.

The project rests on the original idea that brain processes that rely on periodic components may not always be approachable using conventional experimental tools, because in most cases the experimenter does not have access to the appropriate reference time. VanRullen and his team have developed a number of mathematically motivated experimental tools to reveal such periodic processes.

In the long term this project could advance our comprehension of biological perception and its potential replication in artificial entities; understanding the temporal limits of perception may also allow us to augment human performance, and eventually to treat certain neurological diseases.