Robert T. KNIGHT: Physiology of Human Cognition. Insights from Intracranial recording

Event Start Date:
17. September 2019
Event End Date:
17. September 2019
Event Venue:


The last decade has witnessed an explosion of research employing recording of electrical activity directly from the human brain. Intracranial recording provides a powerful window into the neural basis of cognition, thought and consciousness and has been applied to a host of human behaviors.

The first key finding was that the human brain generates robust neural activity up to 250 Hz (high frequency band; HFB) with exquisite spatial (millimeter) and temporal (millisecond) resolution.

The second important observation was that HFB activity, a surrogate for local cortical activity, is modulated by slower cortical oscillations with different tasks eliciting unique sub-second distributed spatial-temporal activity patterns.

I will first discuss how intracranial recording has provided novel insights into the neural basis of attention, language, memory and decision-making with the intracranial findings often challenging prior dogma in the field. I will then review our efforts using HFB activity to decode imagined speech in an effort to develop a brain computer interface for treatment of disabling language deficits.


Dr. Knight is Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at UC Berkeley and Professor of Neurology and Neurosurgery at UC San Francisco. He has a BS in Physics from the Illinois Institute of Technology, an MD from Northwestern University Medical School, did Neurology training at UC San Diego, Post-Doctoral training at the Salk Institute and was a member of the Neurology Department at UC Davis from 1980-1998. He moved to UC Berkeley in 2000 and served as Director of the UC Berkeley Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute from 2001- 2011.

Dr. Knight has twice received the Jacob Javits Award from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke for distinguished contributions to neurological research, the IBM Cognitive Computing Award, the German Humboldt Prize in Neurobiology and the Distinguished Career Contribution Award from the Cognitive Neuroscience Society. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

His laboratory studies neurological patients with frontal lobe damage and also records electrical signals directly from the brain in neurosurgical patients to understand the role of prefrontal cortex in goal-directed behavior.  His laboratory is also engaged in developing a speech prosthesis for use in patients with disabling neurological disorders.


The event is hosted by RITMO Center for Interdisciplinarity Studies in Rhythm, Time and Motion (University of Oslo) in collaboration with Forum for Consciousness Research / Forum for Bevissthetsforskning. See here for more information.

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