PhD success for Adrien Witon

Adrien Witon has been conferred with a PhD for his research into EEG-based mental states identification. Dr Witon was supervised by Dr Caroline Li with Professor Samuele Marcora and Professor Howard Bowman. He was awarded the title of Dr at a graduation ceremony in Rochester Cathedral on 9 July 2019.

Since completing his research Adrien has taken up a post doctoral position in the Centre for Neuroprosthetics at EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Research abstract

Mental health has a huge impact on society and research need to be conducted to investigate how different cognitive states in humans can be quantitatively measured. Cognitive states are defined by the brain state of one individual, engaged either in a particular cognitive activity, or in an idle resting state i.e. normal or pathological. The aim of this thesis is to find neuro-markers of conscious or unconscious states, and to produce a description of the variety of cognitive states. To be able to quantify different mental states, electrical activity on the scalp is recorded from electroencephalography (EEG).

From these EEG dataset, we use analytical methods to distinguish between different cognitive states. These methods study brain activity and his connectivity both at the scalp level and at the neuronal source levels, and the results are evaluated using statistical procedures. We then look at the relationship between brain activity and cognition. The proposed solutions lie in two different perspectives underlying study of consciousness. The first one explores cognitive states from level of consciousness. These levels of consciousness are useful to detect a global unified steady-state response of the brain, for example, applied to mental and physical fagitue, coma and quasi brain death. The second approach explores the mechanisms which explain the manifestation of consciousness at a neural level using predictive coding framework. With this approach, we explore the relationship between sensory level neural processing and high cognition processing, and propose that an intermediate level may be necessary to allow the communication between these two levels.