Neuroscience and Brain Networks
Neural Dynamics and Computing
Researchers at the Lucy Family Institute develop computational and mathematical methods to study how coherent function emerges from the interplay between structure and dynamics in the brain. This work is developing a biologically realistic learning rule for reservoir computing. The algorithm learns simulated motor tasks on which previous reservoir computing algorithms fail, and reproduces experimental findings including those that relate motor learning to Parkinson's disease and its treatment.
Recent advances in neuroscience have engendered interest in large-scale brain networks. Using a consistent database of cortico-cortical connectivity, generated from hemisphere-wide, retrograde tracing experiments in the macaque, researchers analyzed interareal weights and distances to reveal an important organizational principle of brain connectivity. Using appropriate graph theoretical measures, research shows that although very dense (66%), the interareal network has strong structural specificity. Connection weights exhibit a heavy-tailed lognormal distribution spanning five orders of magnitude and conform to a distance rule reflecting exponential decay with interareal separation. A single-parameter random graph model based on this rule predicts numerous features of the cortical network: (1) the existence of a network core and the distribution of cliques, (2) global and local binary properties, (3) global and local weight-based communication efficiencies modeled as network conductance, and (4) overall wire-length minimization. These findings underscore the importance of distance and weight-based heterogeneity in cortical architecture and processing.