Computational Neurosciences

Employ applied mathematics to understand how the brain works.

ABOUT

The Computational Neuroscience group (CN group) was formed in 1996 with the aim to employ applied mathematics to understand how the brain works. The brain is a highly complex piece of biological machinery, compartmentalized into several subsystems and made up of hundreds of billions of cells each one of which can perform complex computations on the basis of which it influences several other cells. The mechanisms that underlie neural processes  (e.g., vision, learning, emotion, action, cognition) have been the object of intense enquiry for hundreds of years. Computational Neuroscientists strive to provide a description of the mechanisms that underlie such processes in the form of realistic models of the brain. Study of the properties and performance of these models allows one to evaluate the epistemic adequacy of available experimental data and the consistency of theoretical formulations. The CN group places particular emphasis on efforts to understand how the brain generates and controls purposeful movements such as orienting the eyes and the head towards objects, reaching for them with an arm and grasping them with an appropriately configured hand. What are the areas of the brain that participate in these processes and how do they generate the signals that control these actions? How are movement variables represented in the spatial and temporal properties of populations of neurons? How do the laws of physics, the geometry of objects manipulated and their mechanical properties influence command signals? To address questions such as these we collect experimental evidence concerning the movement related engagement of brain regions, the behavioral relevance of the discharge patterns of the neurons they contain, the connections they establish with other neurons and the psychophysics of movements generated when the relevant neural networks are activated or lesioned. Finally, we use computer assisted neuronal modeling to evaluate the epistemic adequacy of the data and the consistency of the models they motivate.

RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT ACTIVITIES

Neurophysiology of movement and attention: Spike-trains are recorded from single units of animals trained to execute movements with effectors such as the eye, the head or the arm and analyzed to gain insight into the movement variables coded by single neurons or populations of neurons. Particular emphasis is placed on: 1) the discharge pattern of neurons responsible for the control of the line of sight in the cat. 2) motor and visuomotor properties of the neurons in the ventral premotor area (area F5) of the macaque monkey. 3) functional organization and neuronal properties of the dorsal premotor cortex (area F2) of the macaque monkey. 4) characterization of the synaptic interactions between neurons with the help of electrophysiological and pharmacological methods.
Brain imaging of observational learning and attribution of agency: The quantitative, autoradiographic 14C-deoxyglucose technique, image analysis, and two-dimensional reconstruction of the local cerebral glucose utilization is used to investigate: 1) cortical cerebral pathways associated with voluntary arm-reaching movements of monkeys executing learned visuo-skeletomotor tasks and the visual or somatosensory guidance of the arm, 2) cortical and subcortical regions, related to saccadic eye-movements in the monkey brain and how they encode parameters of saccades (direction, amplitude, eye-position and trajectory), 3) cortical areas involved in execution of grasping movements either guided by sensory stimuli or memorized and the observation of actions performed by others.
Neuroanatomy of the mesencephalon and the cerebral cortex: Immunohistochemistry, light/electron microscopy and extracellular tracer injections are used to study the synaptic organization of neural systems in the mammalian brain including cortical and subcortical oculomotor areas/nuclei, the neocortex and hippocampus.
Stochastic signal processing: We use mathematical/computer modelling, develop techniques to analyse neural signals and systems and carry out electrophysiological experiments to study the activity of populations of neurons with particular emphasis on rhythms and population synchrony underlying neural mechanisms responsible for the generation of movement and respiration.
Mathematical modelling of decision processes and central pattern generation: Computer simulations consistent with known anatomy, physiology, neurology and psychophysics are developed to understand the neural control of purposeful action. Decoding of behavioural parameters from activity patterns of neuronal populations using machine learning algorithms.

Computational Neurosciences

Employ applied mathematics to understand how the brain works.

RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS

A. ONGOING PROJECTS

Bridging neural activity and perception

Title: Bridging neural activity and perception: correlations and causality between activity of single neurons, neuronal populations, oscillatory dynamics and attentive behavior (2018 - 2019)

Funding Framework: Bodossakis Foundation – Research Grant in Biomedicine

Description: Analysis of different neuronal activity metrics to infer correlations and causality between activity of single neurons, neuronal populations, oscillatory dynamics and attentive behavior


B. COMPLETED PROJECTS

Neural mechanisms of attention during visual search

Title: Neural mechanisms of attention during visual search (2015 - 2017)

Funding Framework: Fondation Sante, Research Grant in Biomedical Sciences

Description: Response properties of frontal and parietal neuronal populations in spatial and feature-based attention.


NEMESE

Title: Neural Mechanisms of Visual Search (2014 - 2016)

Funding Framework: ΑΡΙΣΤΕΙΑ ΙΙ, Ευρωπαϊκό Κοινωνικό Ταμείο και ΓΓΕΤ

Description: Electrophysiological investigation of prefrontal and parietal contributions to visual search


METR

Title: Mental Training in Artificial Agents (2014 - 2016)

Funding Framework: ΑΡΙΣΤΕΙΑ ΙΙ, Ευρωπαϊκό Κοινωνικό Ταμείο και ΓΓΕΤ

Description: Brain imaging, single cell recording and computer modeling of observational learning


MESI

Title: Mental Simulation of Action (2014 - 2016)

Funding Framework: ΑΡΙΣΤΕΙΑ ΙΙ, Ευρωπαϊκό Κοινωνικό Ταμείο και ΓΓΕΤ

Description: Investigation of the neural correlates of mental motor functions.


OBSERVENEMO

Title: Neurophysiology and modeling of action observation (2014 - 2015)

Funding Framework: Bilateral S&T Cooperation Program, GSRT

Description: Study of action execution and action observation in primates


VISATT

Title: Interactions between prefrontal cortex and area V4 in attention (2010 - 2013)

Funding Framework: EU/Marie Curie FP7-PEOPLE-2009-RG

Description: Study of the neuronal interactions between brain areas in the prefrontal lobe and extrastriate visual areas in the temporal lobe when visual selective attention is employed


SELECTION

Title: The role of parietal and prefrontal cortex in visual selection (2010 - 2013)

Funding Framework: Ενίσχυση Μεταδιδακτόρων, ΓΓΕΤ

Description: Νευροφυσιολογική διερεύνηση της συνεισφοράς του βρεγματικού και προμετωπιαίου φλοιού στην οπτική επιλογή


IDENTITY

Title: Attribution of action to the correct agent (2010 - 2013)

Funding Framework: Ενίσχυση Μεταδιδακτόρων, ΓΓΕΤ

Description: The neural substrate of encoding the sense of agency in primates.

PUBLICATIONS

  • 2018

  • 2017
  • 2016
  • 2015

PEOPLE

RESEARCHERS

TECHNICAL SCIENTISTS

STUDENTS

CONTACT US

For any information regarding the Wave Propagation Group, please contact:

Computational Neurosciences Group

Institute of Applied and Computational Mathematics

Foundation for Research and Technology - Hellas

Nikolaou Plastira 100, Vassilika Vouton,

GR 700 13 Heraklion, Crete

GREECE


Tel: +30 2810 391800

E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.(Mrs. Maria Papadaki - secretary)


Tel.: +30 2810 391805

E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.(Mrs. Yiota Rigopoulou - secretary)


How to reach us

How to reach us (see Google map)