Sense from Chaos: Controlling the Dynamic Networks of the Brain
Can a state of chaos actually be a good thing for the human mind? Activity recorded from neurons in the brain often looks random or chaotic. How do we make sense of the world and produce precisely controlled responses when so much of the activity in our brains is chaotic? Professor Larry Abbott will show how brain circuits can switch between chaotic and well-controlled patterns of activity, illustrating these points with computer demonstrations of network models. He will also discuss how chaos may be essential for a healthy brain and demonstrate what goes wrong when activity is insufficiently chaotic.
Larry Abbott is the William Bloor Professor of Theoretical Neuroscience and co-director of the Center for Theoretical Neuroscience at Columbia University. He received his Ph.D. in Physics at Brandeis University in 1977 and spent ten years working in theoretical particle physics. His research in neuroscience involves the mathematical modeling and analysis of neurons and neural networks, using analytic techniques and computer simulation to show how populations of neurons interact to produce functional circuits. The goal is to determine the mechanisms by which networks of neurons represent, store and process information. Previous research has involved examinations of the role of homeostatic plasticity, studies of spike-timing dependent synaptic plasticity, and development of the dynamic clamp. Current research topics include multi-timescale models of synaptic plasticity, analysis of network dynamics with applications to sensory processing and motor pattern generation, and modeling olfactory processing in the fly. Abbott is the recipient of an NIH Pioneer Award and is the co-authored of a widely used textbook on theoretical neuroscience.
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Related resources on the Internet:
Larry F. Abbott’s Home Page
Dr. Larry F. Abbott – Brief Biography
Dr. Larry F. Abbott – Detailed Biography
The Hofstadter Memorial Lectures
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