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How Humans See the World Is Best Seen in a Lab

Zhilin Zhang (Photo credit: Coralie Carlson)

How humans process visual information is of great interest to Zhilin Zhang, who is embarking on a Ph.D. in Psychology with a focus on Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience at the CUNY Graduate Center. In her first semester, she is already conducting research and experiments in the lab of Presidential Professor Tony Ro (Biology, Psychology). 

She spoke to use about her research and how the resumption of in-person learning is affecting her studies. 

GC: Tell us about the research you are conducting in Professor Ro's lab. 

Zhang: Our brain perceives the world around us with certain neurological dynamics. Whether and how certain information is processed by our conscious perception is still to be investigated. My research in Professor Tony Ro's lab is focused on the brain mechanism that is related to how we are aware of what we see. We use electroencephalography (EEG) to record the electric signals of the brain during cognitive functioning, such as detecting a visual target, and analyze how these brain activities during certain periods at certain loci are related to our visual consciousness. 

GC: How does it feel to be at the Graduate Center conducting research?

Zhang: The GC has its enthusiastic faculty members and fellows, a welcoming environment, and state-of-the-art facilities for my research on behavioral and cognitive neuroscience. I'm lucky to join the GC community, especially Professor Ro's lab during this semester, to look into the topics that interest me in such a productive and inspiring atmosphere.

GC: Are you taking in-person classes as well? If so, what is that like? 

Zhang: I am taking an in-person Neuroscience I course this semester. The class is informative and interactive, which is very interesting and stimulating. Even though everyone is wearing a mask and sitting with social distancing, the face-to-face communication is really efficient and the atmosphere for discussion is nice, especially after such a long time of online schooling. I look forward very much to the rest of this semester's in-person classes.

GC: What drew you to the Ph.D. program at the Graduate Center? 

Zhang: The neuroscience program at GC provides a perfect match and ideal platform for my research topics. Research in the program by several faculty members on various aspects of visual perception and attention is of great interest for me. I am also fascinated by the inclusive community and the lively environment of the GC. 

Published by the Office of Communications and Marketing.

Submitted on: SEP 17, 2021

Category: Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience | Diversity | GCstories | General GC News | Student News | Voices of the GC