Dept.: Associate Professor, Department of Biological Structure, and Washington National Primate Research Center
Neuroscience Focus Group: Computational Neuroscience, Neural Circuits
We are a systems neuroscience group that aims to understand neural circuitry and neural coding in the cerebral cortex with a major emphasis on the primate visual system. We approach this problem by recording directly from neurons in the functioning brain in vivo and by creating and refining large scale spiking neural network models that run on parallel computers. Thus, we are an interdisciplinary lab where members may do computational studies, in vivo experiments, or both. The immediate goals of our computational work are (1) to unify neural circuit models of visual processing across modalities that intersect in the primary visual cortex (V1), i.e., to integrate models of motion, color and form processing to develop a more complete and deeper understanding of the computations carried out by cortical circuitry, (2) to extend these models to higher cortical areas to investigate shape representation in area V4 and motion perception in area V5/MT, and (3) to pioneer a novel web-based modeling framework (www.iModel.org) to promote the use of computer models and to advance collaboration between experimental, computational and theoretical neuroscientists. Our immediate experimental goals are the development of a cutting-edge optical recording system (2-photon Ca++ imaging) to facilitate the study of both large-scale and small neighborhood representation and computation in V1 and V4 of the primate. For example, we seek to understand inter-neuronal correlation within V1 at the microcircuit level and, in collaboration with the Pasupathy lab, the basis of shape representation within area V4. Our ultimate goal is to understand human visual perception well enough to reproduce it in artificial systems and to guide the future development of brain-machine interfaces.