EE Seminar: Spatial coding and computation by grid cell neurons in the mammalian brain

11 בנובמבר 2019, 15:00 
Room 011, Kitot Building 

(The talk will be given in English)


Speaker:     Prof. Yoram Burak
                     Racah Institute of Physics, and Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences, Hebrew University

Monday, November 11th, 2019
15:00 - 16:00

Room 011, Kitot Bldg., Faculty of Engineering


Spatial coding and computation by grid cell neurons in the mammalian brain


he neural representation of an animal’s location within its environment has been studied since the discovery in 1971 of ‘place cells’ in the mammalian hippocampus, which are selectively active when an animal visits a particular location. The main source of input to the hippocampus within the brain, the entorhinal cortex, has been found in 2005 to contain neurons that are active in multiple locations within the animal’s environment. Remarkably, these locations are arranged on the vertices of a two-dimensional hexagonal lattice that tiles the plane. Both discoveries, of place cells and grid cells, were recognized by the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, awarded to John O’Keefe (UCL, London), May-Britt Moser, and Edvard Moser (NTNU, Trondheim). The periodic response of grid cells, as a function of the animal’s position, raises many questions – both about the mechanisms responsible for this periodicity, and about the properties of grid cell activity as a neural coding scheme for position. I will survey these questions, and will discuss how principles borrowed from statistical physics, nonlinear dynamics, and information theory have been applied to address them.

Short Bio
Yoram Burak is an Assistant Professor at the Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences, and the Racah Institute of Physics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He received his B.Sc. (summa cum laude) from Tel-Aviv University in physics and computer science, and continued his graduate studies at Tel-Aviv University in theoretical physics. His Ph.D., supervised by Prof. David Andelman,  was awarded (with distinction) in 2005. He was a postdoctoral associate at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics at the University of California at Santa Barbara and later a Swartz Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Brain Science at Harvard University. In 2012 he joined the Hebrew University. His research spans diverse topics in computational and theoretical neuroscience, including principles of neural coding, mechanisms of short-term memory, origins and consequence of stochasticity in neural networks, sensory perception, and spatial coding and computation in the brain.

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