Spike Train Analysis Network

Lead Research Organisation: Newcastle University
Department Name: Institute of Cellular Medicine


The brain has computational abilities far exceeding current computer technology, but uses a very different underlying hardware. In order to understand how the brain achieves its computational performance, we need to understand how information is coded, manipulated and stored by networks of brain cells (neurones). Experimentalists have now developed the ability to record the output activity of small populations of neurones (5-50 cells), which are known as spike trains. However, analysis methods to interpret this massive data stream have not kept up with our ability to record it.Spike train analysis is an especially challenging problem, as it requires multi-disciplinary collaboration between mathematicians, statisticians, computer scientists and neuroscientists. No single centre has a critical mass of the necessary disciplines. In this application, we seek to create a network bringing together experts from many centres in the UK and overseas. The network will create a virtual community, transcending both institutional as well as discipline boundaries. Network members will meet in small groups to address focussed problems in spike train analysis, initiating productive collaborations. The network website will provide a forum for debate and discussion, permitting easy sharing of ideas and analysis code. The network will host a monthly seminar series, in which experts in the field will present their work. These seminars will be broadcast via the internet to all network members. As well as acting as a useful arena for the discussion of ideas, these seminars will build the sense of belonging to a virtual academic community. A biannual newsletter, circulated widely in print and electronically, will promote network activities to the wider community. Finally, master classes will be run annually to disseminate advanced methods of spike train analysis to experimental neuroscientists.This award will build a vibrant research community, carrying out cutting-edge research in spike train analysis. The results of this research will be actively disseminated to experimental neuroscientists, such that use of high quality advanced analytical tools becomes the norm. The subsequent advances will lead to new understanding of how the brain processes and stores information. This has potential applications in producing novel computing architectures, and in addressing medical conditions where the brain malfunctions.


10 25 50
Description The funding supported:
- a series of broadcast seminars on neural data analysis, which were extensively viewed across the internet
- workshops on specific analysis questions
- dissemination workshops to train scientists in analysis approaches
Exploitation Route The network forged important links between members of the UK academic community
Sectors Education
URL http://www.spiketrain.org