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

James Schwaber schwaber at mail.dbi.tju.edu
Wed Oct 15 20:53:48 CEST 2008

Hi Terry -

This looks like it will be a fascinating workshop, and I have wondered 
about several of these topics. Is the premise of the first issue true, 
that thalamic inputs 'dominate' the cortex. My understanding is that 
this is not obvious with naturalistic sensory input, for example. The 
question of a canonical circuit likewise seems open to point of view, 
with computational types rounding and lumping to get one and aficionados 
of specific neural systems splitting functional processing specifically. 
Is dendritic computation relevant to your top down gain effects 
question, and how does it affect interpretation of neural processing as 
electrical I/O? In addition to short term plasticity how do we interpret 
ongoing, long term, adaptive remodeling in response to environmental inputs?

All the best - Jim

Terry Sejnowski wrote:
> 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
> memory?
> - 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.
> Speakers:
> 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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