Modeling Structure and Function in a Sensory System

Sharon Crook
Department of Mathematics, University of Maine

(April 17, 2003 10:30 AM - 11:30 AM)

Modeling Structure and Function in a Sensory System

Abstract

In this research, we use methods from information processing to constrain neural models in an attempt to capture not only the dynamics of a system but also its computational function. We study the cricket cercal sensory system, a model system that mediates the detection and analysis of low velocity air currents. The input to the system is represented in an afferent map which encodes sensory stimuli in spatiotemporal patterns of activity. We are able to predict the dynamic patterns of activity that emerge from the ensemble in response to different stimuli. We use these predicted activity patterns to study how interneurons extract sensory information at the next layer of processing. Our main goal is to determine the biophysical mechanisms that implement the encoding schemes in this sensory system.