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Andre Bastos

Assistant Professor of Psychology

A fundamental function of the brain is to predict what will happen next. But the mechanisms for how this is achieved are not well understood. Research in the Bastos laboratory (starting in Spring 2021) uses sophisticated neuronal recordings, computational modeling, and optogenetics to unravel the neural mechanisms for how the brain builds predictions. Most of our sensory inputs and experiences are somewhat predictable. Therefore, by basing perception at least in part on prior predictions, the brain saves a great amount of processing power. These resources can then be dedicated to reacting to unpredicted parts of the environment when flexible behavior is necessary.

 We are investigating the role of distinct layers of cortex, neuronal cell types, and synchronous brain rhythms for generating predictions and updating them based on current experience. We are also pursuing which aspects of the neuronal code for prediction are carried by bottom-up or feedforward vs. top-down or feedback message passing between cortical and sub-cortical areas.

 The Bastos laboratory works with non-human primates (NHPs) performing cognitive tasks involving working memory and attention, while manipulating the predictability of different task elements. As NHPs perform these tasks, we use large-scale multi-laminar recordings to pinpoint the exact brain regions and cortical layers that are involved. We use advanced data analysis techniques to mine these rich data for insights which are then used to inform computational modeling. Closing the loop, we then use causal manipulation techniques such as optogenetics to perturb the ongoing neuronal dynamics.


 Dr. Bastos received his PhD from the University of California, Davis (2013) where he worked with Drs. Ron Mangun and Marty Usrey on thalamocortical communication. During his PhD, Dr. Bastos was a Fulbright scholar in the laboratory of Dr. Pascal Fries at the F.C. Donders Center for Cognitive Neuroimaging in Nijmegen, The Netherlands (and later at the Ernst Strüngmann Institute in Frankfurt, Germany). His studies with Dr. Fries focused on distinct oscillatory frequencies used in feedforward vs. feedback cortical communication. He was also a visiting student with Dr. Karl Friston at Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at University College London, where he first got interested in the theory of predictive coding. Bastos then went on to work as a postdoctoral associate with Dr. Earl Miller at MIT and Dr. Nancy Kopell at Boston University where he used large-scale neuronal recordings to gain insight into predictive processing. He is now joining the faculty of Vanderbilty University during the Spring term of 2021.

Representative Publications

Bastos AM, Usrey WM, Adams RA, Mangun GR, Fries P, Friston KJ: Canonical microcircuits for predictive coding. Neuron 2012, 76:695–711.

 Bastos AM, Vezoli J, Bosman CA, Schoffelen J-M, Oostenveld R, Dowdall JR, De Weerd P, Kennedy H, Fries P: Visual areas exert feedforward and feedback influences through distinct frequency channels. Neuron 2015, 85:390–401.

 Bastos AM, Loonis R, Kornblith S, Lundqvist M, Miller EK: Laminar recordings in frontal cortex suggest distinct layers for maintenance and control of working memory. PNAS 2018.

 Miller EK, Lundqvist M, Bastos AM: Working Memory 2.0. Neuron 2018, 100:463–475.

 Bastos AM, Lundqvist M, Waite AS, Kopell N, Miller EK: Layer and rhythm specificity for predictive routing. PNAS (in press)



Link to full publication list: