Cosyne 2007 Workshops/submissions

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Synopsis (topic and organizers for all submissions):

How silent/active is the brain?
Tim Blanche, Mike Deweese
<draft description below>

two day workshop on hippocampal and entorhinal coding across species
Hugh Blair, Elizabeth Buffalo, Loren Frank
<current speaker list below - 13 confirmed>

Emerging information-theoretic measures and methods in neuroscience
Michael Gastpar, Jonathan Victor:
<proposal below - 9.5 confirmed speakers>

Neurally Plausible Statistical Inference
Charles H. Anderson:
Chris Eliasmith (primary contact):
Brian Fischer:
<proposal below - 6 confirmed speakers>

Functional Requirements of a Visual Theory.
David Arathorn, Bruno Olshausen, Jim DiCarlo
<draft proposal below>

Conserved functions of the basal ganglia circuit
Jesse Goldberg, Michael Farries
<proposal below - 6 confirmed speakers>

What role does spike synchrony or correlation play in sensory processing?
Jason Samonds
<EMail / draft proposal below - ?5 confirmed speakers?>

Asking why - Normative Models in Neuroscience
Konrad P. Kording, Alan A. Stocker
<proposal below - 9 confirmed speakers>

Quantitative analysis of shape representation in mid and higher level visual areas.
Anitha Pasupathy (MIT), Ed Connor (Johns Hopkins Univ)
<"Firmly committed," but no details yet.>

random matrix theory and neural networks
Kanaka Rajan, Larry Abbott
<see earlier email thread re: Kanaka not on Cosyne list-serv - Fritz gave them until the 20th>

Motor control - ?????
Emo Todorov (UCSD)
<Re: speakers, "will work on it during neuroscience">

Decision making - ?????
Jochen Ditterich
<CANCELLED - willing to co-organize>

How silent/active is the brain? workshop proposal for Cosyne 2007

Organizers: Tim Blanche Mike Deweese


Explore multimodal, multi-species evidence for neural sparsity, neural silence, and activity distributions drawing upon data from all available recording techniques.


Sampling bias in the neurosciences? Have we mainly been studying the minority of highly active neurons? If so, what is the other largely ignored population doing?

Neural coding implications, mechanisms of efficient coding.

Implications in terms of PDP/pattern recognition and storage models.

Workshop goals/questions to address:

Arrive at a general definition(s) of neural sparsity. Spiking vs. sub-threshold.

Given unbiased data and reliable measures of neural sparsity, can we reach a consensus on how active/inactive the awake behaving brain?

Is there are hierarchy of neural activity/sparsity as one moves from primary sensory motor cortices to so-called “higher-order” cortical areas? Are there any rules of thumb? Barlow (1972).

Discuss techniques that should provide a definitive answer new technologies such as in vivo multiphoton imaging and chronic multi-channel recording in awake animals.

Spiking activity vs. sub-threshold activity/dendritic; is there any evidence that while spiking activity might indeed be very sparse, the latter is highly active and widespread (e.g. Clay Reid’s recent 2p Ca++ imaging work suggests ~60% neurons “active” in V1).

Possible speakers:

Bruno Olshausen, Ronen Segev, Mike Berry, Quiroga (Koch), Gyorgi Buszaki, Mike de Weese, Tony Zador, Bruce McNaughton, Clay Reid, Peter Lennie, Ed Chichilinksy, Doris Tsao or Winrich Freiwald, Roland Badderley, Rolls/Tovee, Jason Kerr, others?

two day workshop on hippocampal and entorhinal coding across species Hugh Blair, Elizabeth Buffalo, Loren Frank

I just wanted to touch base regarding our proposed two day hippocampal workshop at Cosyne. We have the following confirmed speakers:

Tad Blair Elizabeth Buffalo Neil Burgess Howard Eichenbaum Loren Frank Ila Fiete Lisa Giocomo (Hasselmo lab) Bruce McNaughton Mayank Mehta Francesco Savelli (Knierim lab) Wendy Suzuki Allesandro Treves Kechen Zhang

It should a be an interesting group. We're hoping that that is a sufficient list to get us confirmed as a two day workshop, and we plan to add additional speakers over the next month. if you could let us know if there is anything else we need to do in the near future, we'd appreciate it.



Michael Gastpar, Jonathan Victor: Title: "Emerging information-theoretic measures and methods in neuroscience"

Abstract: Direct application of information-theoretic tools to laboratory measurements of stimulus-response relationships have resulted in a number of important insights. However, these approaches often require very large amounts of data (especially for multineuronal analyses), and are thus of limited practicality in vertebrate systems, especially the central nervous system. Moreover, there are sound theoretical reasons for using an information-theoretic approach even when the neurons under study do not behave "optimally."

In extension and response to these issues, over the past few years, several research groups have developed a second generation of information-theoretic tools. The goal of the proposed workshop is to provide an in-depth snapshot of the status of these investigations in some of their most exciting aspects, including:

  1. Notions of optimality of information representations in neurons
  2. Correlation and information measures of redundancy in populations of neurons and/or the implications of limited data
  3. Refined methods and approaches to estimate mutual information from measurement data, with a particular focus on populations of neurons
  4. Use of information-theoretic tools as a means to characterize the nature of the neural code, rather than the quantity of information carried

Confirmed speakers (alphabetical):

  Toby Berger, Cornell University (pending funding...)
  Michael Berry, Princeton University
  Dmitri Chklovskii, Cold Spring Harbor
  Adrienne Fairhall, U. Washington
  Michael Gastpar, UC Berkeley
  Liam Paninski, Columbia University
  Jonathan Pillow, University College London
  Jonathon Shlens, Salk Institute
  Naftali Tishby, The Hebrew University
  Jonathan Victor, Cornell University

1. Names and emails of organizers:

Charles H. Anderson: Chris Eliasmith (primary contact): Brian Fischer:

2. Title:

Neurally Plausible Statistical Inference

3. Speakers:

Confirmed Speakers:

Charles Anderson (Washington University): TBA

Jeff Beck (University of Rochester): Bayesian inference with probabilistic population codes

Chris Eliasmith (Universty of Waterloo): Biologically plausible hierarchical statistical inference

Brian Fischer (Caltech): A model of sound localization in the barn owl using populations of spiking neurons

Mehrdad Jazayeri (New York University): TBA

Rajesh Rao (University of Washington): Propagating beliefs in neural circuits

Maneesh Sahani (University College London)

Invited but not yet replied:

Rich Zemel (University of Toronto)

4. Description:

The workshop will present recent advances in the modeling of statistical representations and transformations in neural systems. We think this topic will be of interest at Cosyne because the neural plausiblity of many of the statistical methods adopted from machine learning is questionable. Given the effectiveness of biological inference, it seems worthwhile to incorporate biological constraints to discover the algorithms employed by real systems. In addition, there has recently been a dramatic increase in interest in understanding neural systems as centrally involved in statistical inference. The workshop will provide an opportunity to present a variety of perspectives on this idea, as well as address the issues of appropriate approximations to machine learning methods.

Sincerely, Chris Eliasmith Brian Fischer Charles Anderson

DRAFT v001

Proposal for 2007 Cosyne Workshop on Functional Requirements of a Visual Theory.

David Arathorn, Bruno Olshausen, Jim DiCarlo, X, Y, Z….

The objective of this workshop is to gather a group of investigators who are interested in building theories of the visual system and want to identify hard but important questions in vision are not being commonly asked, or widely discussed, and even less pursued experimentally or theoretically.

If one attempts to apply the existing body of neuronal hypotheses on the mechanics of vision to real world vision problems one immediately discovers there are substantial areas essentially unaddresssed. For example, if a student asks how does the visual system supply its owner with a navigable three dimensional model of a rock outcropping viewed monocularly, one would be hard pressed to find a either a computational model or any compelling evidence of which visual area or areas host such a computation. More curiously, there is not much attention paid in the literature to the fact that this is an important unanswered question. Instead, texts in which facts and theories about the visual system are compiled, tend to be results driven: even important questions for which there are no experimental results are usually absent. One of the consequences of being results driven is that the efforts in the field tend to get blown into overpopulated corners by the prevailing methodological winds.

Arising out of a question posed in the 2005 Cosyne Invariance Workshop, we propose a workshop for 2007 on the Functional Requirements of a Visual Theory. The inspiration here is taken from common engineering practice: if you are going to build something, you first compile a functional requirements document which should be a reasonably complete description of what the something is required to do. This is an antidote to the natural tendency to solve the easy problems first, only to find that the solutions one has adopted at the beginning preclude solutions for the hard problems later on.

The objective of this workshop is to gather a group of investigators who are interested in building theories of the visual system and want to identify hard but important questions in vision are not being commonly asked, or widely discussed, and even less pursued experimentally or theoretically. This will be a working workshop. To set the general approach, a limited number of opening presentations on important, underaddressed capabilities of the visual system, current theoretical cul-de-sacs, and other issues which should be under consideration in the construction of any working theory of vision. The majority of the time will be attendees will then be expected to participate in compiling an outline of visual functions, the importance, the level of current understanding, who is doing experimental or theoretical work relevant to that area. When this document is later cleaned up it can serve as a map for students or others interested in informing themselves or working in particular areas. It should also hopefully serve to guide funding agencies to direct means to un-addressed, or under-addressed, areas of research. If the effort comes to be judged as useful, this document can be kept up to date by regular re-occurrences of


(1) Jesse H. Goldberg*(primary contact) (MD/PhD with Rafael Yuste, current post-doc with Michale Fee, MIT)

Jesse Goldberg 32 Vassar Street MIT 46-5145 Cambridge, MA 02139

(2) Michael A. Farries (Former post-doc with David Perkel, currently with Adrienne Fairhall , U. Washington)

Michael Farries Dept. of Physiology and Biophysics  : Univ. of Washington Med. Ctr., Box 357290 1959 NE Pacific St. Seattle, WA 98195-7290

TITLE: Conserved functions of the basal ganglia circuit (1 day workshop)

SUMMARY: Recent advances in functional neuroanatomy have revealed that the basic structure of the basal ganglia (BG) is conserved from anamniotic tetrapods to reptiles, birds, and humans. Across species, BG circuits with common neurochemistry, cytoarchitecture and synaptic connectivity form topographically organized loops that interconnect sensory and motor systems and subserve motor learning. What are the essential functions of this circuit and why has it been conserved? The goal of the proposed workshop is to bring together researchers who study the basal ganglia in different systems to discuss common features and functions of the circuit. Specifically, we will focus, first, on the common structure and cellular elements of the BG circuit. We will next consider BG circuit function as it relates to motor learning in songbirds and mammals, and, lastly, its relevance to psychiatric illness in the human patient.


First Section: BG circuit structure and homology 1. Sten Grillner, Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institute (confirmed): “Organization of the lamprey striatum: transmitters and projections” 2. Michael Farries, Department of Phsyiology and Biophysics (confirmed): “From birds to mammals: the basal ganglia in comparative perspective” 3. Dieter Jaeger, Department of Biology, Emory University (confirmed):

Second Section: BG circuit contribution to behavior 4. Michale Fee, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, MIT (confirmed): “Vocal experimentation in the juvenile songbird requires a basal ganglia circuit.” 5. Ann Graybiel, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, MIT (confirmed):

Third Section: Clinical Correlation—the contribution of BG circuit pathology to psychiatric illness 6. James F. Leckman or Chris Pittenger, Yale Department of Psychiatry.

Unconfirmed: (7) Minoru Kumura or Kenji Doya (8) James Surmeier (9) Alison Doupe or Michael Brainard


Jesse Heymann Goldberg, MD, PhD.

Current Position 2005-present Damon Runyon Cancer Research Fellow, Laboratory of Michale S. Fee, McGovern Institute for Brain Research, M.I.T. Education 2005 M.D. Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons 2004 Ph.D. with Distinction in Neurobiology and Behavior, Columbia University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. 2001 Methods in Computational Neuroscience, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA 1997-2005 Medical Scientist Training Program, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons 1993-1997 BA in Biology, Haverford College, Haverford, PA. 1995-1996 Visiting Student in Biochemistry, Pembroke College, Oxford University, Oxford, England.

Publications Skeberdis V, Chevaleyre V, Suadicani SO, Goldberg JH, Bennett MVL, Yuste R, Castillo PE and Zukin RS. “Protein kinase A promotes LTP induction by increasing calcium permeability of NMDA receptors in dendritic spines.” Nat Neurosci 2006 Apr 9(4) 501-510.

Goldberg JH and Yuste R. “Space Matters: Local and global dendritic calcium comparmentalization in cortical interneurons.” Trends Neurosci. 2005 Mar;28(3):158-67. Review.

Goldberg JH, Lacefield CO, Yuste R. Global dendritic calcium spikes in mouse layer 5 low-threshold spiking (LTS) interneurones: implications for control of pyramidal bursting. J Physiol. 2004 Jul 15;558(Pt 2):465-78.

Goldberg JH, Tamas G, Aronov D, Yuste R. Calcium microdomains in aspiny dendrites. Neuron. 2003 Nov 13;40(4):807-21.

Goldberg JH, Tamas G, Yuste R. Ca2+ imaging of mouse neocortical interneurone dendrites: Ia-type K+ channels control action potential backpropagation. J Physiol. 2003 Aug 15;551(Pt 1):49-65.

Goldberg JH, Yuste R, Tamas G. Ca2+ imaging of mouse neocortical interneurone dendrites: Contribution of Ca2+-permeable AMPA and NMDA receptors to subthreshold Ca2+dynamics. J Physiol. 2003 Aug 15;551(Pt 1):67-78.

Goldberg J, Holthoff K, Yuste R. A Problem with Hebb and local spikes. Trends Neurosci. 2002 Sep; 25(9): 433-5. Opinion.

Hirase H, Nikolenko V, Goldberg JH, Yuste R. Multiphoton stimulation of neurons. J. Neurobiol. 2002 Jun 5; 51(3):237-47.

Tashiro A, Goldberg J, Yuste R. Calcium oscillations in neocortical astrocytes under epileptiform conditions. J Neurobiol. 2002 Jan;50(1):45-55

Badea T, Tashiro A, Goldberg J, Mao B, Yuste R. Imaging epileptiform events in juvenile neocortical slices with single cell resolution. J. Neurobiol. 2001 Sep 5;48(3):215-27.

Cavallaro S, Meiri N, Yi C, Musco S, Ma W, Goldberg JH, Alkon DL. “Late memory-related genes in the hippocampus revealed by RNA fingerprinting,” PNAS 94 (1999): 9669-9673.

Honors/Awards/Fellowships 2006-2009, Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation Fellowship. 2004, Dean’s Award for excellent research, Columbia University. 2004, PhD thesis awarded with distinction, Columbia University. 1997, Phi Beta Kappa Society, Haverford College. 1997, Honors Thesis in Biology, Haverford College. 1995-6, Biochemistry Fellow, Pembroke College, Oxford University. 1995, Letter of Commendation for Excellent Research in laboratory of Daniel L. Alkon, NINDS.

Michael A. Farries, Ph.D

Current position Post-doctoral associate, Laboratory of Adrienne Fairhall, Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Univ of Washington Med. Ctr

Education Ph.D. in Neuroscience, University of Pennsylvania, 2002

Methods in Computational Neuroscience summer course at the Marine Biological Laboratory, 2002

Neural Systems and Behavior summer course at the Marine Biological Laboratory, 1998

Complex Systems Summer School at the Santa Fe Institute, 1997

B.S. in Biology and Physics, Duke University, 1993

Publications Farries, M.A. and A.L. Fairhall (in preparation). Reinforcement Learning with Modulated Spike Timing-Dependent Synaptic Plasticity.

Farries, M.A., Meitzen, J., and D.J. Perkel (2005). Electrophysiological Properties of Neurons in the Basal Ganglia of the Domestic Chick: Conservation and Divergence in the Evolution of the Avian Basal Ganglia. J. Neurophysiol. 94: 454-467.

Farries, M.A., Ding, L., and D.J. Perkel (2005). Evidence for “Direct” and “Indirect” Pathways through the Song System Basal Ganglia. J. Comp. Neurol. 484: 93-104.

Farries, M.A. (2004). The Avian Song System in Comparative Perspective. Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci. 1016:61-76.

Ding, L., D.J. Perkel, and M.A. Farries (2003). Presynaptic Depression of Glutamatergic Synaptic Transmission by D1-Like Dopamine Receptor Activation in the Avian Basal Ganglia. J. Neurosci. 23:6086-6095.

Farries, M.A. and D.J. Perkel (2002). A Telencephalic Nucleus Essential for Song Learning Contains Neurons with Physiological Characteristics of Both Striatum and Globus Pallidus. J. Neurosci. 22:3776-3787.

Perkel, D.J., M.A. Farries, M. Luo and L. Ding (2002). Electrophysiological analysis of a songbird basal ganglia circuit essential for vocal learning. Brain Res. Bull. 57:529-532.

Farries, M.A. (2001). The Oscine Song System Considered in the Context of the Avian Brain: Lessons Learned from Comparative Neurobiology. Brain, Behav. and Evol. 58: 80-100.

Farries, M.A. and D.J. Perkel (2000). Electrophysiological Properties of Avian Basal Ganglia Neurons Recorded In Vitro. J. Neurophysiol. 84: 2502-2513.

Perkel, D.J. and M.A. Farries (2000). Complementary ‘bottom-up’ and ‘top-down’ approaches to basal ganglia function. Curr. Opin. Neurobiol. 10: 725-731.

Honors, Awards, and Fellowships Grass Fellowship, 2004 Saul Winegrad Award for Outstanding Dissertation in the Biomedical Sciences, 2003 NRSA Predoctoral Fellowship, July 2001 NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, July 1996 Horn Prize (given every year to 1-2 top graduating Biology majors at Duke Univ.), 1993 Graduation with Distinction in Biology, 1993 Phi Beta Kappa, 1992

From: Jason Samonds <> Date: September 29, 2006 12:25:38 PM PDT To: Fritz Sommer <> Cc: Jascha Sohl-Dickstein <> Subject: Re: cosyne workshops [Re: review paper (fwd)]

My working title is:

"What role does spike synchrony or correlation play in sensory processing?"

Basically, I want to get a group together with half neurophysiologists that record from multi-electrodes (especially large arrays) and half computational neuroscientists that are looking at population coding issues.

Matt Smith will be a co-organizer (he works with me at the CNBC). We already have a few people that will agree to present something so I feel pretty confident we will follow through with this.

AB Bonds, Vanderbilt (array data) Matt Smith or Adam Kohn, CNBC/Einstein (array data) Simon Schultz, London (info theory) Peter Latham (info theory) myself (data)

I can send more information next week and there's a couple potential speakers I would like to see at SFN first, which is before the 20th.

Sincerely, Jason


Organizers: Konrad P. Kording (

      345 E Superior Street, Room 1408A,
      Dept. of Physiology and PM&R,
      Northwestern University,
      Chicago, IL 60611, U.S.A.
      Alan A. Stocker (*
      4 Washington Place, Room 809,
      Center for Neural Science,
      New York University,
      New York, NY 10003, U.S.A.

Title: "Asking why - Normative Models in Neuroscience"

Duration: One day.

We expect that over the course of evolution many properties of the nervous system became close to optimally adapted to the statistical structure of problems the nervous system is usually faced with. Substantial progress has been recently made towards understanding the nervous system on the basis of optimality: asking "why" the nervous system is solving problems the way it does.

Normative models typically start with an analytical formulation of which problem the nervous system has to solve, and propose an answer: how the nervous system "should" optimally solve this problem given its limited amount of neural resources. Such a principled framework seems particularly important for understanding complex systems, where pure descriptive models often cannot provide satisfying answers. Normative models have been successful in explaining a wide range of aspects of neural processing, from neural response characteristics to human social behavior. For example, the way sensory neurons encode information is frequently phrased as a problem of most efficiently representing sensory information. As another example, the way people combine cues within the same modality or between modalities is often formulated as optimal inference given the constraint of sensory uncertainty. Such models, by specifying the problem to be solved in a meaningful way, often explain counterintuitive properties of neurons as well as the behavior of humans in perceptual, action and cognitive tasks.

The goal of this workshop is to bring together theoretical and experimental neuroscientists interested in understanding why the brain is behaving the way it does. Experts from different fields, including neurophysiology, perception, cognition and behavior, will present their newest research results. Yet, the focus of the workshop is on discussions among participants and audience.

In particular, the workshop should lead us toward answers of the following questions: What is the state-of-the-art in applying normative models in neuroscience? Where are the limitations of normative models in providing answers in neuroscience? Can we link and unify some of the different approaches (e.g. efficient coding and optimal estimation)?

Confirmed speakers:

- David C. Knill, Universit of Rochester - Barak Pearlmutter, National University of Ireland Maynooth - David Brainard, University of Pennsylvania - Bruno Olshausen, UC Berkeley - Pascal Mamassian, CNRS France - Tom Griffiths, UC Berkeley - Daeyeoul Lee, University of Rochester - Konrad Kording, Northwestern University - Alan Stocker, New York University