Prof Kristine Krug investigates the neural basis of visual perception and decision-making. The long-term scientific aim of her research is to understand and control the neuronal signals that generate our rich visual experience. She has been awarded a Heisenberg-Professorship by the DFG to work in Magdeburg as Chair in Sensory Physiology.
After a DPhil at Oxford University on how ordered maps are formed during brain development, Kristine has been investigating the contribution of single brain cells to visual perception. She held a Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship of the Royal Society from 2001-2005. Employing ambiguous figures similar to the Necker Cube and 3D images, she characterized not only how neurons in extra-striate visual area V5/MT carry signals directly related to decisions about 3D perception but also showed that the same brain cells may carry signals that are not accessible to perceptual decisions. Her work as a Royal Society University Research Fellow at Oxford demonstrated that neural signals in primate V5/MT contribute causally to perceptual decisions about visual objects formed by combining 3D and motion cues.
As Associate Professor in Neuroscience in Oxford, Kristine showed how contextual factors, like reward and social advice, affect the processing of sensory evidence for decision-making and therefore visual perception. She studied the anatomical connections within area V5/MT as well its cortical connections using MRI and histological methods in order to elucidate the neural circuitry that underlies simple perceptual decisions.
In recent years, the closest experimental links between brain signals and perception have been established in awake primates between the activity of single neurons and perceptual decisions. Kristine’s current work builds on this powerful research platform she has built and extends it to increasingly naturalistic settings of perception and action. Specifically, her current work focuses on the continuity of perceptual activities. Rather than treating perception and behaviour as a sequence of discrete, finite episodes, each culminating in a decision, the new experimental paradigms will study of how the brain engages in active, continuous monitoring of the dynamically changing incoming flow of information. Linking the activity of brain cells in non-human primates with human MRI through common perceptual tasks and computational models, she investigates altered decision-making and perception in patients with psychological disorders, like autism and bipolar disorder.