Thomas (Tommy) Sprague received his BA in Cognitive Sciences from Rice University in Houston, TX in 2010 and his PhD in Neurosciences with a Specialization in Computational Neurosciences from the University of California, San Diego in 2016. His graduate work with John Serences sought to develop and apply novel multivariate analysis methods to human neuroimaging techniques to understand how neural systems represent information in support of dynamic behavioral goals. Prior to joining the faculty at UCSB, Dr. Sprague worked as a postdoctoral fellowship with Clayton Curtis and Wei Ji Ma studying how neural systems represent both the contents of visual working memory, but also their ‘uncertainty’, by building new multivariate analysis methods.
We often encounter the same scene (say, the inside of your refrigerator) with different behavioral goals (pouring a glass of water or finding a piece of cake). My lab is interested in how the actions we wish to perform impact neural representations of the world. When you’re looking for a piece of cake, how does that change the representation of the other items in the refrigerator? How well can you remember the color of the pitcher, or the location of the soda can, when you close the door? My lab combines computational neuroimaging (fMRI; EEG), behavioral testing (psychophysics; eyetracking), and model-based analysis techniques (voxel-wise modeling; inverted encoding models) to shed light on how brain networks support and constrain our ability to represent information about our environment. Because of its ease of access to contemporary noninvasive neuroimaging tools, we use the visual system as a model system for evaluating neural representations and testing hypotheses about neural information processing.