WFU Department of Physics Wake Forest University


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WFU Physics Colloquium

TITLE: Neurophysics of cortical computation

SPEAKER: Professor Paul Tiesinga,

Department of Physics and Astronomy,
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

TIME: Thursday Oct. 23, 2008 at 4:00 PM

PLACE: Room 101 in Olin Physical Laboratory

Refreshments will be served at 3:30 PM in the Olin Lounge. All interested persons are cordially invited to attend.


Information in the brain is encoded in the electrical activity of a few tens of billions of neurons. Understanding what the 'neural code' is and how it is modulated by our behavioral goals has proved to be a challenging problem. Stimulus selection in the early visual system is an ideal place to address this issue due to a wealth of experimental data. I will discuss the application of physics-type methods to link the behavior at the level of a single neuron to that at the population level involving millions of neurons. From experiment, simulation and theoretical analysis it emerges that socalled interneurons play an important role in modulating the neural firing rate and coherence in various frequency bands. I will report on recent work that for the first time maps specific functions onto specific interneuron types and propose methods to test these hypotheses. I will give a gentle introduction to neuroscience appropriate for a physics audience. The neuroscience focus of this work is the role of interneuron diversity in the cortical circuit for attention.

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100 Olin Physical Laboratory
Wake Forest University
Winston-Salem, NC 27109-7507
Phone: (336) 758-5337, FAX: (336) 758-6142