Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Neuroscience and big data: How to find simplicity in the brain

25.08.2014

Scientists can now monitor and record the activity of hundreds of neurons concurrently in the brain, and ongoing technology developments promise to increase this number manyfold. However, simply recording the neural activity does not automatically lead to a clearer understanding of how the brain works.

In a new review paper published in Nature Neuroscience, Carnegie Mellon University's Byron M. Yu and Columbia University's John P. Cunningham describe the scientific motivations for studying the activity of many neurons together, along with a class of machine learning algorithms — dimensionality reduction — for interpreting the activity.

In recent years, dimensionality reduction has provided insight into how the brain distinguishes between different odors, makes decisions in the face of uncertainty and is able to think about moving a limb without actually moving.

Yu and Cunningham contend that using dimensionality reduction as a standard analytical method will make it easier to compare activity patterns in healthy and abnormal brains, ultimately leading to improved treatments and interventions for brain injuries and disorders.

"One of the central tenets of neuroscience is that large numbers of neurons work together to give rise to brain function. However, most standard analytical methods are appropriate for analyzing only one or two neurons at a time. To understand how large numbers of neurons interact, advanced statistical methods, such as dimensionality reduction, are needed to interpret these large-scale neural recordings," said Yu, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering and biomedical engineering at CMU and a faculty member in the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition (CNBC).

The idea behind dimensionality reduction is to summarize the activity of a large number of neurons using a smaller number of latent (or hidden) variables. Dimensionality reduction methods are particularly useful to uncover inner workings of the brain, such as when we ruminate or solve a mental math problem, where all the action is going on inside the brain and not in the outside world. These latent variables can be used to trace out the path of ones thoughts.

"One of the major goals of science is to explain complex phenomena in simple terms. Traditionally, neuroscientists have sought to find simplicity with individual neurons. However, it is becoming increasingly recognized that neurons show varied features in their activity patterns that are difficult to explain by examining one neuron at a time. Dimensionality reduction provides us with a way to embrace single-neuron heterogeneity and seek simple explanations in terms of how neurons interact with each other," said Cunningham, assistant professor of statistics at Columbia.

Although dimensionality reduction is relatively new to neuroscience compared to existing analytical methods, it has already shown great promise. With Big Data getting ever bigger thanks to the continued development of neural recording technologies and the federal BRAIN Initiative, the use of dimensionality reduction and related methods will likely become increasingly essential.

###

The CNBC, a joint project between Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh, is devoted to investigating the neural mechanisms that give rise to human cognitive abilities. The center will celebrate its 20th anniversary of advancing brain, computation and behavior through research and training this fall.

For more information, visit http://www.cnbc.cmu.edu/.

The Grossman Center for the Statistics of Mind, the Simons Foundation, the Gatsby Charitable Foundation and the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Child Health and Human Development funded this research.

For more information, visit http://users.ece.cmu.edu/~byronyu/ and http://stat.columbia.edu/~cunningham/.

Shilo Rea | Eurek Alert!

Further reports about: Neuroscience activity analytical interact latent neurons patterns reduction

More articles from Medical Engineering:

nachricht XXL computed tomography: a new dimension in X-ray analysis
17.05.2018 | Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft

nachricht Why we need erasable MRI scans
26.04.2018 | California Institute of Technology

All articles from Medical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

Im Focus: Dozens of binaries from Milky Way's globular clusters could be detectable by LISA

Next-generation gravitational wave detector in space will complement LIGO on Earth

The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...

Im Focus: Entangled atoms shine in unison

A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.

The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...

Im Focus: Computer-Designed Customized Regenerative Heart Valves

Cardiovascular tissue engineering aims to treat heart disease with prostheses that grow and regenerate. Now, researchers from the University of Zurich, the Technical University Eindhoven and the Charité Berlin have successfully implanted regenerative heart valves, designed with the aid of computer simulations, into sheep for the first time.

Producing living tissue or organs based on human cells is one of the main research fields in regenerative medicine. Tissue engineering, which involves growing...

Im Focus: Light-induced superconductivity under high pressure

A team of scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg investigated optically-induced superconductivity in the alkali-doped fulleride K3C60under high external pressures. This study allowed, on one hand, to uniquely assess the nature of the transient state as a superconducting phase. In addition, it unveiled the possibility to induce superconductivity in K3C60 at temperatures far above the -170 degrees Celsius hypothesized previously, and rather all the way to room temperature. The paper by Cantaluppi et al has been published in Nature Physics.

Unlike ordinary metals, superconductors have the unique capability of transporting electrical currents without any loss. Nowadays, their technological...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Supersonic waves may help electronics beat the heat

18.05.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Keeping a Close Eye on Ice Loss

18.05.2018 | Information Technology

CrowdWater: An App for Flood Research

18.05.2018 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>