Another fascinating topic from the SFN Annual Meeting was the research being undertaken in the area of computational neuroscience.
Computational neuroscience is the study of brain function in terms of the information processing properties of the structures that make up the nervous system.
It is an interdisciplinary science that links the diverse fields of neuroscience, cognitive science and psychology with electrical engineering, computer science, mathematics and physics.
In an interview in the current edition of New Scientist, Professor Terry Sejnowski, head of the computational neurobiology lab at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California, says some of the most intriguing results in computational neuroscience come from collaborations between modelers and experimentalists.
Professor Sejnowski and his research colleagues’ research in modeling signal transfer patterns throughout the brain has resulted in new techniques which make it possible to simultaneously record signals from many neurons. The sensitivity means scientists can for the first time, watch the output from a neuron spread through the brain.
Research has also found that neurons respond differently to different stimuli (for example, signals required to move a prosthetic arm can change when people are tired). This research will help improve brain-machine interferences such as prosthetic limbs and thought-controlled wheelchairs.