Inst. of Neuroscience and Medicine (INM-6)
Computational and Systems Neuroscience
Research Center Jülich
My scientific work is concerned with the relationship between the structure of the neocortex -the youngest part of the mammalian brain- and its dynamical properties. Although different cortical areas are involved in very different functions, they are remarkably similar in terms of their anatomical and electrophysiological properties. This observation has inspired the idea of a "canonical cortical microcircuit" - a fundamental processing unit which can be recruited by different cortical or subcortical areas and therefore solve very different tasks. It is, however, unclear for now what these fundamental computational principles are that underly or support brain function. To shed light on this it is necessary to uncover the wiring properties of the cortical network, and to study how the architecture determines the dynamics of this system. For this purpose, I focus on the development of mathematical cortex models at different levels of description: computer simulations of networks consisting of a large number (~104-106) of neurons which are densely interconnected (~103-104 synapses/neuron) are used to study the high-dimensional dynamics at a microscopic (single-cell) level. Simplified analytical models, in contrast, describe the compound activity and the interplay between cortical subpopulations (population-rate models).