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EPSRC Reference: EP/C51338X/1
Title: Scaling up neuroscience - Analysis of multi-electrode array data
Principal Investigator: Feng, Professor J
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
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Department: Computer Science
Organisation: University of Warwick
Scheme: Overseas Travel Grants Pre-FEC
Starts: 01 November 2004 Ends: 31 October 2007 Value (£): 15,900
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Artificial Intelligence Biomedical neuroscience
Information & Knowledge Mgmt
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
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Summary on Grant Application Form
After over a century of neurophysiological research we still do not understand the principle by which a stimulus such as an odour, an image or a sound is represented by distributed neural ensembles within the brain. While large numbers of studies have made detailed analyses of response profiles of single cells in isolation, such techniques cannot address holistic issues of how large ensembles of neurones can integrate information both spatially and temporally. There is little doubt that much of the information processing power of the brain resides in the activities of co-operating and competing networks of neurones and that if we can unlock the principles whereby information is encoded within these networks as a whole, rather than within single neurones in isolation, we may actually be able to understand how the brain works.While some progress towards understanding how this is achieved at a gross structural level is being achieved with brain imaging techniques the only way to provide an understanding at the level of multiple cell-cell interactions in the brain is to record from large numbers of cells within a defined system simultaneously. The two main difficulties in achieving this step have been firstly the lack of appropriate tools to record simultaneously the electrical activity of ensembles of neurones at the single cell level and secondly to be able to analyse the huge amounts of multivariate, high frequency sampling data that would be generated as a result. About four years ago, we started to develop multi-array electrode (MEA) recording technologies for studying neural encoding of odour within rodent olfactory bulb (OB). After three years of hard work of three people (Dr. A. Nicol, Dr. R. Mason and Dr. M. Man), supported by BBSRC (over 0.5 million), MEA data recorded from rat's OB are available now (see the proposal for more details) and are cried out for analysis. The data provide us with a unique and challenging chance to understand how the information is processed in the OB (or the brain in general)Our main aim of the research is, together with the experimental team, to develop statistical methods, biophysical and abstract models, and the first user-friendly software to understand how an odour is coded by the OB, to extend our approaches to the visual systems, and finally to multi-regions in the nervous systems. We expect our adventures will provide a complete answer to some fundamental questions related to the information processing in the OB, and shed new lights onto the related issues in the brain in general. Use of the multi-electrode array techniques to detect signals coded by populations of neurons will be important not only for elucidating mechanisms of brain function, and for alleviating medical problems such as paralysis. Since this sort of work may also guide development of intelligent machines it is being used to provide data for computer simulations of brain activity.The current grant is for visiting two world leading laboratory working on statistical analysis of MEA data: one in Harvard and the other in Florida, for two months per year.
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Organisation Website: http://www.warwick.ac.uk