Dynamic Signal Processing Analyses of Neural Plasticity

Brown E.(Executive)

Project Supported by Public Organizations in Other Countries, 2002 - 2007

  • Project Type: Project Supported by Public Organizations in Other Countries
  • Begin Date: September 2002
  • End Date: July 2007

Project Abstract

In response to PAR-02-010 we propose to form a Bioengineering Research Partnership between a statistician (Dr. Emery N. Brown of Massachusetts General Hospital, Partnership Director), neuroscience experimentalists (Dr. Matthew A. Wilson of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Dr. Wendy Suzuki of New York University) and a control engineer (Dr. Victor Solo of the University of New South Wales) to develop a systems engineering approach to understanding neural plasticity. The area of bioengineering research will be the development of neural signal processing algorithms by combining the theory of point processes and adaptive estimation to study neural plasticity during learning and memory formation. The experimental investigations will study the dynamics of neural activity within the hippocampus and adjacent medial temporal lobe structures (entorhinal, perirhinal and parahippocampal cortices) in rats, genetically altered mice, and primates. These experimental studies will provide the basis for a focused investigation that designs new methods for neural signal processing appropriate for dynamic analysis of multiple simultaneously recorded neural spike trains. The algorithms we design will be used to analyze the data collected in the experimental studies proposed in this investigation. The close collaboration between the experimentalists and the quantitative scientists will ensure that the methods designed are appropriate for the data collected. The long-term objectives of this partnership are: to establish a combined experimental-signal processing approach to characterizing neural plasticity and how it relates to learning, memory formation and behavior; to develop broadly applicable signal processing tools for analyzing the dynamic behavior of neural ensembles; and to establish an interdisciplinary research environment so that undergraduates, graduate students and post-doctoral fellows can be well trained in both the cutting edge experimental methods and signal processing techniques that are jointly required to study a complex question such as the dynamics of neural information encoding in the brain. The health implications of this work are a more fundamental understanding of neural plasticity and, as a consequence, how it affects normal physiological processes such as growth, development and learning as well as pathologic conditions such as drug addiction, Alzheimer's disease and chronic pain. More accurate quantitative characterizations of neural information dynamics coupled with improved signal processing algorithms may also lead to innovative approaches to creating machine-brain interfaces and designing neural prosthetic devices.