FAI Talk - Jim Bednar, "A mechanistic model of the development and function of the primary visual cortex"

Contact Name: 
Jenna Whitney
POB 2.402
Apr 10, 2014 9:30am - 10:30am


Talk Audience: UTCS Faculty, Grad Students, Undergrad Students, and Outside Interested Parties

Host: Risto Miikkulainen

Talk Abstract: Can the complex circuitry of the primary visual cortex (V1) be understood by considering the process by which it has been developed? In this talk I outline a long-term project to build the first computational model to explain both the development and the function of mammalian V1. To do this, researchers in my group are building the first developmental models with wiring consistent with V1, the first to have realistic behavior with respect to visual contrast, the first to include all of the various visual feature dimensions, and the first to include the major sources of connectivity that modulate V1 neuron responses. The goal is to have a comprehensive explanation for why V1 is wired as it is in the adult, how that circuitry reflects the the visual environment, and how the resulting architecture leads to the observed behavior of the neurons during visual tasks. This approach leads to experimentally testable predictions at each stage, and can also be applied to understanding other sensory cortices, such as somatosensory and auditory cortex, while suggesting computational principles that could be useful for processing real-world data in general.

Speaker Bio: Jim Bednar leads the Computational Systems Neuroscience research group at the University of Edinburgh, focusing on modeling the development and function of mammalian visual systems. He is the Director and PI of the Edinburgh Doctoral Training Centre in Neuroinformatics and Computational Neuroscience, with 60 current PhD students. His Ph.D. in Computer Science is from the University of Texas at Austin, and he also has degrees in Philosophy and Electrical Engineering. He is a co-author of the monograph "Computational Maps in the Visual Cortex" (Springer, 2005), and leads the Topographica cortical modeling software project (see topographica.org). He is also a member of editorial boards for the journals Connection Science, Frontiers in Neuroinformatics, and Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience, and edits the Visual System section of the Springer Encyclopedia of Computational Neuroscience.