[Comp-neuro] NIPS 08 Workshop - Dec 13 - Cortical Microcircuits - Whistler

Terry Sejnowski terry at salk.edu
Tue Oct 7 00:19:25 CEST 2008

NIPS 2008 Workshop - Whistler Canada - http://nips.cc/Conferences/2008/Program/

Cortical Microcircuits and their Computational Functions

Saturday 13th December 2008

Organizers: Terry Sejnowski, Salk Institute,  Tomaso Poggio, MIT

Workshop Description:

There are around 100,000 neurons under a mm^2 of cerebral cortex
and about one billion synapses.  Thalamic inputs to the cortex
carry information that is transformed by local microcircuits of
excitatory and inhibitory neurons.  In recent years there has
been an explosion of discoveries about the anatomical organization
of the micrcircuits and the physiolgical properties of the neurons
and synapses that compose them.  The goal of this workshop is to
explore the funcitonal implications of these new findings and in particualr
to attempt to characterize the elementary computational operations
that are performed in different layers of cortex.

Some of the issues that speakers will address include:

- How is the input from the thalamus able to dominate the cortex
when the vast majority of the synapses in cortex are from cortical
neurons and the thalamic inputs constitute less than 5% of the synapses
on the first layer of cells in layer 4.

- Is there a canonical microcircuit?  How does it differ between
sensory areas and motor areas, between the early and late stages
in the cortical hierarchy, and in cortical areas that support working

- How is the gain of the microcircuit affected by top down
inputs from higher cortical areas through attentional control?
How are microcircuit  with positive feedback stabilized?

- What do the intrinsic properties of dendrites contribute to
the computation performed by neurons?

- What is the relation between proposed operations for canonical
microcircuits such as gain control, normalization, tuning, soft-max? Can
one compare the ventral stream to the dorsal stream?

- What is the consequence of short-term synaptic plasticity on
transient and tonic cortical processing?

Workshop Format:

There will be a series of 8 brief 20 minute talks with 20 minutes of
discussion following each talk.


Rodney Douglas, (INI, Zurich) - Canonical cortical microcircuit
Paul Tiesinga (UNC, Chapel Hill) - Microcircuits for gain control
Attila Losonczy (Janelia Farm) - Dendritic computation
Terry Sejnowski (Salk/UCSD) - Thalamocoritical inputs to cortex
Tomaso Poggio (MIT) - Functions of microcircuits
Bernie Widrow (Stanford) - Mechanisms for cognitive memory
Sebastian Seung (MIT) - Connectomics
David Heeger (NYU) - Microcircuits for normalization


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