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Exploring neural computation in behaving animals at the scale of large populations and entire brains, through a combination of collaborative data analysis and experimental design across multiple model systems, and technology development for large-scale analytics and interactive visualization
We want to understand the brain, as much of it as possible, all at once. We do this in three ways.
First, we develop technologies for the analysis and visualization of data. We leverage recent advances in distributed computing and web-based graphics to help build platforms for fast, flexible, interactive exploration of datasets. These tools are open-source, community-built, and designed from the ground up to to run in distributed cloud-based environments (check out Thunder and Lightning; drag and click around the interactive visualization below).
Second, we uncover principles of neural coding by helping design experiments and by analyzing data tightly integrated with experiments. We work closely with collaborators across many systems — mouse, zebrafish, fly. Our focus is holistic neural computation: how do sensory events, behavioral states, and past experiences guide behaviors, and how can we watch the underlying computations evolve both within and across brains areas.
Third, we are developing new ways to "close the loop": to analyze neural data online during experiments, and use the results to change an experiment on the fly, or perform targeted manipulations of neural activity. This brings together several exciting challenges — data stream processing, online machine learning, real-time interactive visualization, and closed-loop experimental design — and promises new windows into neural computation.
"Perceptual systems are ways of seeking and extracting information about the environment from the flowing array of ambient energy."
— James J. Gibson