Neural Architecture: Systems Approaches to Brain Structure and Function

Neural Architecture
Reported by
Don Monroe

Posted March 20, 2009


Historically, systems biology has focused on developing networks of interacting molecules that can be measured using high-throughput techniques. But the computational modeling employed by systems biologists can also pay off for other complex systems, notably the intricate neural tapestry that houses our minds.

Neuroscientists were among the first to employ computational models in an attempt to understand the complex processes carried out by our nervous systems. From Hodgkin and Huxley's computational model of an action potential in 1952 to the artificial intelligence computations of today, neuroscientists have embraced the mathematical approach with a vigor few other biological fields can claim. On January 28, 2009, the Systems Biology Discussion Group invited three speakers to discuss computational modeling and other techniques for understanding diverse aspects of brain architecture and signaling.

Use the tabs above to find a meeting report and multimedia from this event.


Journal Articles

Chklovskii DB. 2004. Synaptic connectivity and neuronal morphology: two sides of the same coin. Neuron 43: 609-617. Full Text

Hamzei-Sichani F, Kamasawa N, Janssen WG, et al. 2007. Gap junctions on hippocampal mossy fiber axons demonstrated by thin-section electron microscopy and freeze fracture replica immunogold labeling. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 104: 12548-12553. Full Text

Sharpee TO, Victor JD. 2008. Contextual modulation of V1 receptive fields depends on their spatial symmetry. J. Comput. Neurosci. [Epub ahead of print]

Traub RD, Contreras D, Cunningham MO, et al. 2005. Single-column thalamocortical network model exhibiting gamma oscillations, sleep spindles, and epileptogenic bursts. J. Neurophysiol. 93: 2194-2232. Full Text

Traub RD, Pais I, Bibbig A, et al. 2003. Contrasting roles of axonal (pyramidal cell) and dendritic (interneuron) electrical coupling in the generation of neuronal network oscillations. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 100: 1370-1374. Full Text

Victor, JD, Mechler F, Repucci MA, et al. 2006. Responses of V1 neurons to two-dimensional Hermite functions. J. Neurophysiol. 95: 375-400. Full Text

Wen Q, Chklovskii DB. 2008. A cost-benefit analysis of neuronal morphology. J. Neurophysiol. 99: 2320-2328.


Dmitri B. Chklovskii, PhD

Howard Hughes Medical Institute
e-mail | web site | publications

Dmitri "Mitya" Chklovskii earned his PhD in theoretical physics from MIT in 1994. While a junior fellow of the Harvard Society of Fellows, he became fascinated by the enigma of the human brain. In 1999, after being a Sloan fellow at the Salk Institute, he founded a Theoretical Neuroscience group at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. In 2007, he became a group leader at Janelia Farm, a new interdisciplinary campus of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in the suburbs of Washington, DC. He is known for pioneering application of engineering principles to understand brain design.

Jonathan D. Victor, MD, PhD

Weill Cornell Medical College
e-mail | web site | publications

Jonathan Victor received his BA in mathematics from Harvard, followed by a PhD in biophysics from the Rockefeller University, where he worked with Bruce Knight, Robert Shapley, and Floyd Ratliff on the retina. He then obtained an MD from Cornell University Medical College. Victor completed his residency in neurology at the New York Hospital, and has been on the faculty at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University since then. He is currently Fred Plum Professor of Neurology and Neuroscience and head of the Division of Systems Neurology and Neuroscience. His research interests include sensory neurophysiology, neural coding, and large-scale modeling of brain dynamics.

Roger D. Traub, MD

IBM T.J. Watson Research Center
e-mail | web site | publications

Roger Traub has pursued a career as a neurologist, professor, and researcher at several institutions. He currently holds an appointment with the Department of Physical Sciences, IBM T.J. Watson Research Center (Yorktown Heights, NY) and teaches at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn. Traub received his MD in 1972 from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

Over the course of his career, Traub has received numerous distinctions, including two IBM Outstanding Innovation Awards (1983, 1989), an American Epilepsy Society's Research Recognition Award in 1991, a Principal Research Fellowship awarded by the Wellcome Trust (UK) in 1997 and recently, a Humboldt Research Award (2007). He has served as action editor or editorial board member for several journals.

Don Monroe

Don Monroe is a science writer based in Murray Hill, New Jersey. After getting a PhD in physics from MIT, he spent more than fifteen years doing research in physics and electronics technology at Bell Labs. He writes on physics, technology, and biology.