Ken Valyear

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

206 Melvin H. Marx Building, Brain Imaging Center


Research Interests

A basic fundamental goal of neuroscience is to understand how the brain uses sensory information from the environment to control purposeful behavior. My research interests focus on the neural basis of human tool use and involve the use of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), behavioral and kinematic analysis methods with neurologically healthy individuals. I am particularly interested in elucidating the cortical mechanisms underlying transformation of visual information about tools to corresponding motor programs for their dexterous use. The visual specification of action-relevant object properties (affordances) appears to unfold within the same parietal and frontal brain areas that mediate sensorimotor control of the hand for object grasping and manipulation and includes access to information derived from prior experience. I plan to continue to study this topic using fMRI and behavioral methods with the long-term goals of combining these methods with transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). TMS can be used to temporally disrupt the functions of fMRI-identified brain areas in the context of tool use tasks, the behavioral consequences of which can then be used to help understand the casual functions of those brain areas.

Selected Publications

Valyear, K.F., Gallivan, J.P., McLean, D.A., and Culham, J.C. (in press). fMRI repetition suppression for familiar but not arbitrary actions with tools. Journal of Neuroscience.

Valyear, K.F., Chapman, C.S., Gallivan, J.P., Mark, R.S., and Culham, J.C. (2011). To use or to move: goal-set modulates priming when grasping real tools. Experimental Brain Research, 212/1, 125-142.

Gallivan, J. P., McLean, D.A., Valyear, K.F., Pettypiece, C., and Culham, J.C. (2011). Decoding action intentions from preparatory brain activity in human parieto-frontal networks. Journal of Neuroscience, 31/26, 9599-9610.

Valyear, K.F., and Culham, J.C. (2010). Observing learned object-specific functional grasps preferentially activates the ventral stream. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 22/5, 970-984.

Valyear, K.F., Cavina-Pratesi, C., Stiglick, A.J, and Culham, J.C. (2007). Does tool-related fMRI activity within the intraparietal sulcus reflect the plan to grasp? NeuroImage, 36, T94 - T108.

Culham, J.C., and Valyear, K.F. (2006). Human parietal cortex in action. Current Opinion in Neurobiology, 16/2, 205-212.

Valyear, K.F., Culham, J.C., Sharif, N., Westwood, D.A., and Goodale, M.A. (2006). A double dissociation between sensitivity to changes in object identity and orientation in the ventral and dorsal visual streams: A human fMRI study. Neuropsychologia, 44/2, 218-228.