Top down or bottom up? measuring, modeling and understanding cross-scale neural interactions

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Cosyne 2008 Workshop
March 3-4, 2008
The Canyons, Utah


Tim Blanche (UC Berkeley)
Kilian Koepsell (UC Berkeley)


The brain functions on multiple spatial and temporal scales spanning several orders of magnitude. Most experimental neuroscientists and theoreticians tend to measure and model the brain at a single scale, regarding lower scales as 'implementational detail' and higher scales as phenomena to explain using the scale under study. While much progress has been made using this approach, the success of this paradigm rests on the assumption that the process or mechanism being studied at one scale operates largely independently of lower and higher scales, despite the fact that descriptions at different scales are descriptions of the same thing at different resolutions. The central themes of this workshop are thus: to what extent can overall brain function be understood one scale at a time? What has been learned by measuring and modeling brain processes across scales? Is there an optimal scale to model brain function? What are the correlational dependencies across levels in neural data? What information is processed at a given scale, how much redundancy is there, and what are the upward and downward flows of information across time?

These are not new questions, but the tools emerging to answer them are. Our invited speakers use experimental and theoretical techniques that give a window on brain dynamics from single neurons to whole brains, modeling data obtained from whole cell recordings, implantable multi-electrode arrays, high-density EEG and epidural electrode arrays, fMRI, and MEG. The risk with such a workshop is that it fades into a series of loosely connected talks. We hope to avoid this veritable "Tower of Babel" by having speakers who not only have diverse multidisciplinary backgrounds, but whose research endeavors explicitly span two or more scales of measurement and analysis:

List of invitees

  • Tony Bell
  • Gyorgy Buzsaki
  • Ryan Canolty
  • Pascal Fries
  • Eugene Izhikevich
  • Jean-Philippe Lachaux
  • Rafael Malach
  • David Mc Cormick
  • Peter Robinson
  • Charles Schroeder
  • Others TBA...

We hope you will join us for discussion and debate at what promises to be a very exciting workshop!