Special Computational Neuroscience Issue of Science

The October 6th issue of Science is a special issue devoted to computational neuroscience. From the introduction to the special issue:

Computational neuroscience is now a mature field of research. In areas ranging from molecules to the highest brain functions, scientists use mathematical models and computer simulations to study and predict the behavior of the nervous system. Simulations are essential because the present experimental systems are too complex to allow collection of all the data. Modeling has become so powerful these days that there is no longer a one-way flow of scientific information. There is considerable intellectual exchange between modelers and experimentalists. The results produced in the simulation lab often lead to testable predictions and thus challenge other researchers to design new experiments or reanalyze their data as they try to confirm or falsify the hypotheses put forward. For this issue of Science, we invited leading computational neuroscientists, each of whom works at a different organizational level, to review the latest attempts of mathematical and computational modeling and to give us an outlook on what the future might hold in store.

Of particular interest is a review article by Randall O’Reilly on biologically based computational models. He focuses on models of the pre-frontal cortex.

NIPS Workshop Announcement

If anyone has any additional questions that they think would be good to address at the workshop, leave it as a comment below.

NIPS 2006 Workshop Announcement and Call for Abstracts
Decoding the Neural Code

There is great interest in sensory coding. Studies of sensory coding typically involve recording from sensory neurons during stimulus presentation, and the investigators determine which aspects of the neuronal response are most informative about the stimulus. These studies are left with a decoding problem: are the discovered codes, sometimes quite exotic, ultimately used by the nervous system to guide behavior? In our one-day workshop, researchers with many different backgrounds will evaluate what we know about neuronal decoders and suggest new strategies, both experimental and computational, for addressing the decoding problem.

Each hour, five to six researchers will address a particular question for five minutes, followed by a half-hour discussion. We will also set aside time for a poster session.

We tentatively plan to include the following questions, and are soliciting additional questions from our speakers:
1. Which variables that encode stimuli are actually used to guide behavior?
2. What mechanisms do nervous systems use to decode encoded information?
3. Are motor systems better than sensory systems for experimentally addressing decoding?
4. What computational and experimental techniques are needed to address decoding? For instance, should information theory be used to address decoding as well as encoding?

For information on abstract submission, go to the workshop web site at http://science.ethomson.net/NIPS_workshop.html.

Posted by Eric Thomson