ConnectomeViewer – Multi-Modal Multi-Level Network and Neuroimaging Visualization and Analysis

Two neat tools concerned with the “connectome” (i.e. the pattern of connections in the nervous system):

Semantic wiki:

Desktop viewer: “Multi-Modal Multi-Level Network and Neuroimaging Visualization and Analysis” (screencasts)

Neural Interfaces workshop, conference, June 20-23 (student status letter due tomorrow)

1. Beyond Brain Machine Interface: From Senses to Cognition
Co-sponsored by IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society and Army Research Office
June 20, 2010, Long Beach, CA
Travel fellowships, poster abstracts, and registration:

2. 39th Neural Interfaces Conference
Co-sponsored by NIH Deep Brain Stimulation Consortium
June 21-23, 2010, Long Beach, CA
Free registration for students (Faculty Advisor letter due May 21)
Program, registration, and further information:
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The evolutionary psychology of war

Nothing too shocking here for students of evolutionary psychology but it’s always interesting to see real world examples of how our shared behavior. There is a new book by Sebastian Junger called War, in which he recounts how men do not fight for larger ideological goals (eg. “a safer Iraq”, “finding Bin Laden”) but instead they can overcome fears because “they’re more concerned about their brothers than what happens to themselves individually”. Here’s Junger on Good Morning America:

After the jump some more from Junger and a nice talk from Robert Sapolsky about similar behaviors in chimps.

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Dendritic organization of sensory input to cortical neurons in vivo

Jia, H., Rochefort, N., Chen, X., & Konnerth, A. (2010). Dendritic organization of sensory input to cortical neurons in vivo Nature, 464 (7293), 1307-1312 DOI: 10.1038/nature08947

Consider a a cortical neuron in V1, layer 2/3, whose output shows sharp orientation tuning. What are the orientation tunings of the most important inputs to that neuron? What is the spatial distribution of these inputs in the neuron’s dendritic tree?

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When Will We Be Able to Build Brains Like Ours?

When Will We Be Able to Build Brains Like Ours? – by Terry Sejnowski –

Terry Sejnowski discusses the recent ‘catfight’ that erupted between Dharmenda Modha of IBM and Henry Markram of the EPFL over claims from Modha that his group had successfully modeled the brain of a cat.

Dr. Sejnowski provides a summary of the quest to describe the nervous system using computational models and introduces a central question: What level of abstraction is appropriate?

“Looking at the same neuron, physicists and engineers tend to see the simplicity whereas biologists tend to see the complexity. The problem with simplified models is that they may be throwing away the baby with the bathwater. The problem with biophysical models is that the number of details is nearly infinite and much of it is unknown. How much brain function is lost by using simplified neurons and circuits?”

Despite the differing approaches, both Modha and Markram say we’ll have a model human brain by 2019. Sejnowski claims that these will be impoverished brain models, “at best these simulations will resemble a baby brain, or perhaps a psychotic one”, but he does remain hopeful in his closing remarks:

“And gradually, as it increasingly mimics the workings of our brains, the world around us will become smarter and more efficient. As this cognitive infrastructure evolves, it may someday even reach a point where it will rival our brains in power and sophistication. Intelligence will inherit the earth.”

Submitted By: Dan Knudsen