Research Funding for Undergrads: Computational Neuroscience Traineeships for 2016-17

The Division of Science is pleased to announce the availability of Traineeships for Undergraduates in Computational Neuroscience through a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Traineeships will commence in summer 2016 and run through the academic year 2016-17.

Please apply to the program by February 24, 2016 at 6 pm to be considered.

Traineeships in Computational Neuroscience are intended to provide intensive undergraduate training in computational neuroscience for students interested in eventually pursuing graduate research. The traineeships will provide a $5000 stipend to support research in the summer, and $3000 each for fall and spring semesters during the academic year. Current Brandeis sophomores and juniors are eligible to apply. In addition, to be eligible to compete for this program, you must

  • have a GPA > 3.0 in Div. of Science courses
  • have a commitment from a professor to advise you on a research project related to computational neuroscience
  • have a course work plan to complete requirements for a major in the Division of Science
  • intend to apply to grad school in a related field.compneuroimage

The curricular requirements are listed on the program website.  The application form is online (Brandeis login required). Also, see Frequently Asked Questions.

There will be a question-and-answer session about summer research funding applications on Thursday, Jan 14 at 5 pm in Gerstenzang 123

Research Support for Undergrads: Computational Neuroscience Traineeships for 2015-16

The Division of Science wishes to announce the availability of Traineeships for Undergraduates in Computational Neuroscience through a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Traineeships will commence in summer 2015 and run through the academic year 2015-16.

Please apply to the program by February 24, 2015 at 6 pm to be considered (NOTE DATE CHANGE). If applying after Feb 24, be sure to contact divsci at brandeis dot edu to inquire about the availability of training slots.

Traineeships in Computational Neuroscience are intended to provide intensive undergraduate training in computational neuroscience for students interested in eventually pursuing graduate research. The traineeships will provide a $5000 stipend to support research in the summer, and $3000 each for fall and spring semesters during the academic year. Trainees are appointed for at least a year and up to two years, depending on satisfactory progress.  Current Brandeis sophomores and juniors are eligible to apply. In addition, to be eligible to compete for this program, you must

  • have a GPA > 3.0 in Div. of Science courses
  • have a commitment from a professor to advise you on a research project related to computational neuroscience
  • have a course work plan to complete requirements for a major in the Division of Science
  • intend to apply to grad school in a related field.

The curricular requirements are listed on the program website.  The application form is online (Brandeis login required). Also, see Frequently Asked Questions.

Odor Recognition & Brute-Force Conversions

Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience will be publishing an interesting paper written by Honi Sanders and John Lisman (with co-authors Brian E. Kolterman, Roman Shusterman, Dmitry Rinberg, Alexei Koulakov) titled, “A network that performs brute-force conversion of a temporal sequence to a spatial pattern: relevance to odor recognition“. Honi Sanders has written a preview of this paper.

by Honi Sanders

Lisman_ProvisionalPDF_BLThere are many occasions in which the brain needs to process information that is provided in a sequence. These sequences may be externally generated or internally generated. For example, in the case of understanding speech, where words that come later may affect the meaning of words that come earlier, the brain must somehow store the sentence it is receiving long enough to process the sentence as a whole. On the other hand, sequences of information also are passed from one brain area to another.  In these cases too the brain must store the sequence it is receiving long enough to process the message as a whole.

One such sequence is generated by the olfactory bulb, which is the second stage of processing of the sense of smell.  While individual cells in the olfactory bulb will fire bursts in response to many odors, the order in which they fire is specific to an individual odor. How such a sequence can be recognized as a specific odor remains unclear.  In Sanders et al, we present experimental evidence that the sequence is discrete and therefore contains a relatively small number of sequential elements; each element is represented in a given cycle of the gamma frequency oscillations that occur during a sniff. This raises the possibility of a “brute force” solution for converting the sequence into a spatial pattern of the sort that could be recognized by standard “attractor” neural networks.  We present computer simulations of model networks that have modules; each model can produce a persistent snapshot of what occurs during a given gamma cycle. In this way, the unique properties of the sequence can be determined at the end of sniff by the spatial pattern of cell firing in all modules.

The authors thank Brandeis University High Performance Computing Cluster for cluster time. This work was supported by the NSF Collaborative Research in Computational Neuroscience, NSF IGERT, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Research Support for Undergrads: Computational Neuroscience Traineeships for 2014-2015

The Division of Science wishes to announce the availability of Traineeships for Undergraduates in Computational Neuroscience through a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Traineeships will commence in summer 2014 and run through the academic year 2014-15.

Please apply to the program by February 28, 2014 at 6 pm to be considered. If applying after Feb 28, be sure to contact divsci at brandeis dot edu to inquire about the availability of training slots.

Traineeships in Computational Neuroscience are intended to provide intensive undergraduate training in computational neuroscience for students interested in eventually pursuing graduate research. The traineeships will provide a $5000 stipend to support research in the summer, and $3000 each for fall and spring semesters during the academic year. Trainees are appointed for at least a year and up to two years, depending on satisfactory progress.  Current Brandeis sophomores and juniors are eligible to apply. In addition, to be eligible to compete for this program, you must

  • have a GPA > 3.0 in Div. of Science courses
  • have a commitment from a professor to advise you on a research project related to computational neuroscience
  • have a course work plan to complete requirements for a major in the Division of Science
  • intend to apply to grad school in a related field.

The curricular requirements are listed on the program website.  The application form is online (Brandeis login required).

Rectifying electrical synapses in pattern-generating circuits

by Gabrielle Gutierrez

Rectifying electrical synapses are more interesting than they might seem at first. Our recent study finds that they have the potential to allow a circuit to control how robust the circuit output is to modulation of synaptic strength.

Gap junctions allow neurons to communicate quickly by serving as a direct conduit of electrical signals. Non-rectifying gap junctions probably come to mind first for most neuroscientists when they think about electrical synapses, since they are the idealized textbook variety. The electrical current that passes through the non-rectifying type of gap junction is simply a function of the voltage difference between the coupled neurons. However, this is only the case when the two hemi-channels that form a gap junction pore have the same voltage-dependencies.

Schematic shows that neurons can express diverse gap junction subunits (top left). Rectifying gap junction conductance is a function voltage difference between two neurons (top right). Bottom panel illustrates how coupled neuron output depends on the polarity of the rectifying electrical synapse and the intrinsic properties of the coupled neurons.

Schematic shows that neurons can express diverse gap junction subunits (top left). Rectifying gap junction conductance is a function voltage difference between two neurons (top right). Bottom panel illustrates how coupled neuron output depends on the polarity of the rectifying electrical synapse and the intrinsic properties of the coupled neurons.

We know from past electrophysiology studies that a single neuron can express a diverse set of gap junction hemi-channels, enabling it to form similarly diverse gap junction channels with another neuron. This could result in rectifying electrical synapses in which current flows asymmetrically between neurons so that current flow can either be permitted or restricted depending on whether the current is positive or negative. What we didn’t know were the consequences of electrical synapse rectification for a pattern-generating circuit of competing oscillators. Our recently published study in J. Neuroscience addressed this question and led us to conclude that rectifying electrical synapses can change how a neuronal circuit responds to modulation of its synapses – including its chemical synapses. Although we used a computational model for our study, our results indicate that rectifying electrical synapses in biological networks can be an important component in neuronal circuits that produce rhythmic patterns, such as those found in motor systems.

Gabrielle Gutierrez obtained her PhD in Neuroscience from Brandeis earlier this year, and is currently doing a postdoc with Sophie Deneuve at the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris

Gutierrez GJ, Marder E. Rectifying electrical synapses can affect the influence of synaptic modulation on output pattern robustness. J Neurosci. 2013;33(32):13238-48.

Sloan-Swartz Computational Neuroscience Meeting July 26-28

sloan-swartz-illustThe annual summer meeting of Sloan-Swartz Centers for Computational Neuroscience will be held at Brandeis this weekend (July 26-28). Neuroscientists from centers at 11 major US educational institutions will convene to talk about research progress from the last year. Talks by professors, postdocs, and grad students will be held Friday through Sunday in the Shapiro Campus Center Auditorium – the schedule is online. The poster session, including posters from Brandeis undergraduates and grad students, will be held on Friday evening. All welcome to attend talks. Food available for those who have preregistered.

Marder lab researchers win best paper contest

Alex Williams and Timothy O’Leary from the Marder Lab have won first place in the 2012  Brain Corporation Prize Competition in Computational Neuroscience  for their Scholarpedia article Homeostatic Regulation of Neuronal Excitability.  Williams, a Bowdoin College graduate currently working as post-baccalaureate research technician at Brandeis, and O’Leary, a postdoctoral fellow, won the worldwide competition to write the most popular review in the area of computational neuroscience, and gained a $5,000 prize, a feat that required not only superb writing but also mobilizing the audience to vote for paper. The award ceremony is today at the Computational Neuroscience (CNS’13) meeting in Paris.

Check out the winning entry online.

IGERT Video Poster Competition Voting Open

Tony Ng (a grad student in Paul Miller’s lab in Neuroscience) writes:

I’m entering a nationwide video/poster competition organized by the National Science Foundation (NSF) under the IGERT program.  There are over 100 three-minute-videos/posters in the competition.  The videos/posters are divided into 18 fields, all of which are multidisciplinary.  Mine covers cognition/biology/physics.

The competition has a Public Choice award.  Winning the award requires Facebook “likes” on my page.  I need on the order ~1000 “likes” to be in contention.  The bar has been raised from last year’s.  The competition is fierce.  Each/every vote from the Brandeis community counts!

The competition opens today (5/21) and ends Thursday (5/23) at 10pm.  For a vote to count, it is imperative to click on the “Public Choice” button, which would then trigger a Facebook “like” sign-in.  Anyone with an existing Facebook account can contribute.

Here’s the link to my 3-minute video/poster:

http://posterhall.org/igert2013/posters/402

Act now! Tthe competition closes on Thursday at 10pm!

Hope you enjoy the videos!

Update (2 pm):

Andrew Russell from the Petsko-Ringe lab also has a poster in the competition on studying Aβ oligomers to understand Alzheimer’s Disease – check it out — vote early, vote often?

http://posterhall.org/igert2013/posters/416

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