The European Research Council published the results of its 2013 call for “Consolidator Grants” on January 14th, 2014. The ERC awarded 312 grants to top-level researchers at an intermediate career stage. Among them, Rufin VanRullen will be allowed to develop his research project on “Perceptual Cycles : Exploring and controlling the perceptual consequences of brain rhythms” (acronym : P-CYCLES).
Many current theories implicate brain oscillations in perception, attention, consciousness or memory. This, however, has one critical implication that is often overlooked in cognitive sciences : if a perceptual function relies on an oscillatory basis, then it should operate periodically, as a sequence of successive episodes or ’snapshots’, with more or less favourable moments recurring at a well-defined periodicity. Rufin VanRullen’s project aims to explore the validity and the consequences of this groundbreaking notion of "rhythmic perception". Whereas current research links perceptual functions to relatively slow changes of oscillatory amplitude, we propose to investigate the perceptual consequences of brain rhythms at the rapid time scale of the oscillatory cycle –the notion of "perceptual cycles". The project as a whole, combining psychophysics, EEG, TMS, fMRI and computational modelling methods, will characterize the rhythmic dynamics of perception, their neural basis and their functional implications, bringing us closer to understanding perception itself.