Noise in mental exploration for learning

Principal Investigator: Joshua Gold, Neuroscience @Penn
Title: The role of noise in mental exploration for learning
BRAIN Category: Individuality and Variation

In our unpredictable world, decision-makers face an inherent trade-off: higher certainty leads to more precise and accurate choices when the world is stable but an inability to adjust to change, whereas less certainty can lead to greater adaptability but also more variable and imprecise decisions. The investigators propose that this trade-off is regulated by interactions between arousal and cortical systems.

Identifying Design Principles of Neural Cells

Principal Investigator: Amina Qutub, Rice University
Title: Identifying Design Principles of Neural Cells
BRAIN Category: Neuroengineering and Brain-inspired concepts and design (#1533708)

This proposal seeks to develop a robust theory of how single neural cells form electrically active networks. The project integrates emerging methods in computer science, systems biology, neuroengineering and developmental biology to offer insight into the brain's organization.

A circuit theory of cortical function

Principal Investigator: Charles Gilbert, Rockefeller Unviersity
Title: A circuit theory of cortical function
BRAIN Category: Neuroengineering and Brain-inspired concepts and design (#1532591)

This project aims to develop and test a new conceptual framework for understanding brain function, and informing biologically based artificial intelligence systems. The underlying theory holds that the properties of any neuron and any cortical area are not fixed but undergo state changes with changing perceptual task, expectation and attention.

Neural representation of visual memory

Principal Investigator: Aude Oliva - MIT
Title: Algorithmically explicit neural representation of visual memorability
BRAIN Category: Neuroengineering and brain-inspired concepts and design (#1532591)

We propose to combine three technologies to predict what makes an image memorable or forgettable: neuro-imaging technologies recording where encoding happens in the human brain (spatial scale), when it happens (temporal scale), and what types of computation are performed at the different stages of storage (computational scale.

Holographic optogenetics and olfactory coding

Principal Investigator: Dmitry Rinberg
NYU Neuroscience Institute
Title: "Behavioral readout of spatiotemporal codes dissected by holographic optogenetics"
BRAIN Category: Understanding Neural Circuits (RFA NS-14-009)

Dr. Rinberg's team aims to understand how the brain turns odors into nerve signals by activating and recording neurons in the olfactory bulbs of mice as they detect a variety of odors.

Activity measurement at single cell

Principal Investigator: Craig Forest
Georgia Institute of Technology
Title: "In-vivo circuit activity measurement at single cell, sub-threshold resolution"
BRAIN Category: Tools for Cells and Circuits (RFA MH-14-216)

Dr. Forest's team will use a newly developed robot guided technique to measure precise changes in electrical activity from individual neurons that are connected over long distances across the brain, to understand how these connections change when our brains go into different states, such as sleeping and waking.

Dreadd2.0: A Chemogenetic Toolkit

Principal Investigator: Bryan L Roth
UNC Neuroscience
Title: " Dreadd2.0: An Enhanced Chemogenetic Toolkit"
BRAIN Category: Tools for Cells and Circuits (RFA MH-14-216)

Dr. Roth and colleagues will build second generation technology that uses artificial neurotransmitters and receptors to manipulate brain activity simultaneously across select cells and pathways to understand their functions and potentially treat brain disorders.

Mapping Sensory-Motor Pathways

Principal Investigator: Michael Dickinson
Caltech Neuroscience
Title: "Integrative Functional Mapping of Sensory-Motor Pathways"
BRAIN Category: Understanding Neural Circuits (RFA NS-14-009)

Dr. Dickinson will lead an interdisciplinary team to study how the brain uses sensory information to guide movements, by recording the activity of individual neurons from across the brain in fruit flies, as they walk on a treadmill and see and smell a variety of sights and odors

Integrated approach to visual neuroscience

PI: Sebastian Seung, Princeton University
Title: "Vertically integrated approach to visual neuroscience: microcircuits to behavior"
BRAIN category: Understanding Neural Circuits

Dr. Seung and colleagues will use state-of-the-art genetic, electrophysiological, and imaging tools to map the connectivity of the retina, the light-sensing tissue in the eye. The goal is to delineate all the retina's neural circuits and define their specific roles in visual perception and behavior.

Combining genetics, genomics & anatomy

Principal Investigator: Sacha B. Nelson
Brandeis University
Title: Combining genetics, genomics, and anatomy to classify cell types across mammals"
BRAIN Category: Census of Cell Types (RFA MH-14-215)

To gain a deeper understanding of how cells have evolved specialized features, Dr. Nelson and colleagues will create transgenic strains of rats and mice that carry identical genetic modifications in many different cell types and see how the properties of these cells diverge across species.

Neural circuits in zebrafish

Principal Investigator: Florian Engert
Program in Neuroscience @Harvard
Title: "Neural circuits in zebrafish: form, function and plasticity"
BRAIN Category: Understanding Neural Circuits (RFA NS-14-009)

Dr. Engert's team will combine a wide array of cutting-edge neuroscience techniques to watch the entire brain activity of a see-through fish while it swims, and to make detailed maps of its brain circuitry.

Neural circuit dynamics in working memory

Principal Investigator: Carlos D Brody
Princeton Neuroscience Institute
Title: "Mechanisms of neural circuit dynamics in working memory"
BRAIN Category: Understanding Neural Circuits (RFA NS-14-009)

Dr. Brody and his colleagues will study the underlying neuronal circuitry that contributes to short-term "working" memory, using tools to record circuit activity across many brain areas simultaneously while rodents run on a track-ball through virtual mazes projected onto a screen.

Circuitry Underlying Memory replay

Principal Investigator: Ivan Soltesz
UC Irvine Neuroscience
Title: "Towards a Complete Description of the Circuitry Underlying Memory replay"
BRAIN Category: Understanding Neural Circuits (RFA NS-14-009)

Dr. Soltesz's team will combine computer brain modeling and large-scale recordings of hundreds of neurons to understand how the brain generates sharp-wave-ripples, a neuronal activity pattern essential for learning and memory.

Connectivity of brain stem circuits

Principal Investigator: David Kleinfeld
UCSD Neuroscience
Title: "Revealing the connectivity and functionality of brain stem circuits"
BRAIN Category: Understanding Neural Circuits (RFA NS-14-009)

Dr. Kleinfeld and his colleagues will use a variety of tools and techniques to create detailed maps of circuits in the brainstem, the region that regulates many life-sustaining functions such as breathing and swallowing, and match the circuits to actions they control.

Patterned activity and codes for behavior

Principal Investigator: John Maunsell
Neuroscience at University of Chicago
Title: "The role of patterned activity in neuronal codes for behavior"
BRAIN Category: Understanding Neural Circuits (RFA NS-14-009)

Dr. Maunsell's team will explore how large populations of neurons process visual information, using a newly developed light stimulation technique to induce brain cell activity in the visual cortex of mice.

Crowd coding in the brain

Principal Investigator: Patrick Kanold
UMD Neuroscience and Cognitive Science
Title: "Crowd coding in the brain: 3D imaging and control of collective neuronal dynamics"
BRAIN Category: Understanding Neural Circuits (RFA NS-14-009)

Dr. Kanold and his team propose cutting edge methods to stimulate neurons at different depths in the auditory cortex, and will use new computational methods to understand complex interactions between neurons in mice while testing their ability to hear different sounds.

3D Holography for Optogenetic Manipulation

Principal Investigator: Serge Picaud
Pierre and Marie Curie University
Title: "Three Dimensional Holography for Parallel Multi-target Optogenetic Circuit Manipulation"
BRAIN Category: Large-Scale Recording-Modulation - Optimization (RFA NS-14-008)

Dr. Picaud's team will continue its development of holographic imaging to use lasers to induce the natural electrical activity of neurons and test theories of how circuits produce behaviors in a range of animal models.

Mapping neuronal chloride microdomains

Principal Investigator: Kevin J. Staley
Neuroscience@Harvard, Massachusetts General Hospital
Title: "Mapping neuronal chloride microdomains"
BRAIN Category: Tools for Cells and Circuits (RFA MH-14-216)

Using protein engineering technology to monitor the movement of chloride through inhibitory neurotransmitter receptor channels, Dr. Staley's group aims to understand the role of chloride microdomains in memory.

Cortical circuits and information flow

Principal Investigator: Mriganka Sur
MIT Neuroscience
Title: "Cortical circuits and information flow during memory-guided perceptual decisions"
BRAIN Category:

Dr. Sur and his team will combine a number of cutting-edge, large-scale imaging and computational techniques to determine the exact brain circuits involved in generating short term memories that influence decisions.

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