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Swartz Initiative in Theoretical Neurobiology at Yale University
With the support of the Swartz Foundation, this initiative will foster collaborative research and interdisciplinary training in computational neuroscience at Yale. The centerís faculty consists of Xiao-Jing Wang (director), David McCormick, Daeyeol Lee, Jamie Mazer, and Mark Laubach. These five labs share a common goal of elucidating cellular mechanisms and neural dynamics that underlie higher brain functions, such as working memory, decision making and selective attention.
Recent years have seen great strides in our understanding of sensory processing and plasticity at the cellular and molecular levels. A major challenge today is to firmly establish general principles as well as detailed neural mechanisms of basic cognitive functions. Our work aims at making progress in this direction, with a focus on the prefrontal cortex.
Theory and computational modeling play a critical role in this enterprise, especially in studies of strongly recurrent cortical circuits, which we believe hold the key to understanding the chain of causal links from molecules to complex and flexible behaviors. Topics of active research represented in this initiative include self-sustained neural activity patterns and working memory, decision making, reinforcement learning, timing, variability and synchrony of neural activity and visual attention in natural environments.
We are joined by a large number of neuroscientists at Yale with a strong computational component to their research programs, including Amy Arnsten, Marvin Chun, Todd Constable, Thierry Emonet, Gordon Shepherd and Steven Zucker. The Swartz funds will be used to support postdoctoral fellows, a new computational/systems neurobiology seminar series and the Spike Club.
The Swartz Initiative at Yale webpage:
December 14, 2009:
Rain or Shine? Computer Models How Brain Cells Reach a Decision