Theoretical/Computational Neuroscience

Gulf Coast Consortium for Theoretical and Computational Neuroscience

Leveraging computational power to better understand the mind through researchers empowered to share ideas, information and technology.

The Theoretical and Computational Neuroscience (TCN) provides a mechanism and environment for interactions that potentially could generate novel projects of a significant scale outside of the reach of any one institution. From a research perspective, the TCN serves as a catalyst that attracts and unites those interested in theoretical or computational neuroscience and so congeal into a body fit to compete for large center grants.

Annual TCN Conference January 26-27, 2017
The 14th Annual Theoretical and Computational Neuroscience Conference is Thursday – Friday, January 26-27, 2017.  For agenda and registration, please click here.


About GCC TCN

Experimental Neuroscience has successfully identified the molecules and many of the neural pathways of the mind. In a number of important cases, e.g., spatial memory in rats, it has directly linked these players and pathways to behavior. In many cases it remains, however, unclear to what extent these finding actually "explain" behavior. For although our neurons share a common chemical composition, there are over 100 billion neurons per brain--each talking with approximately 10000 of its neighbors across synapses that are rapidly strengthened or weakened as a function of activity.

In order to bridge mind and molecule we must tame this neural net. The complexity of the net, together with its ability to change under our eyes, argues against relying solely on intuition and for the construction of a theoretical framework that yields computationally tractable predictions and helps guide further experiment.

Theoretical and Computational Neuroscience Training Program
This interdisciplinary and multi-institutional training program seeks to support the education of future researchers who can apply the tools of Mathematics, Physics and Engineering to problems of Brain Research. Traditional Neuroscience uses reductionism to formulate hypotheses and tests them experimentally, while Theoretical and Computational Neuroscience builds on Information Theory, Dynamical Systems Theory, and Computer Science to create theoretical models to be tested numerically.

Collaborations of Neuroscientists, individually trained in experimental and computational approaches, are not unusual on the basis of experimental data. In extension of this, we advocate a synergistic use of both approaches to control the experiment itself, and propose to train pre- and postdoctoral students accordingly.

Commensurate with our escalating knowledge of neural function, the complexity of experiments to analyze both healthy and diseased brain function is ever-increasing. In this situation, it is necessary to utilize the analytic and predictive nature of Theoretical and Computational Neuroscience not only between but rather during experiments.

To meet this challenge, we will recruit both pre- post-doctoral students with previous training in Mathematics, Physics and Engineering, and associate them with dual mentors of expertise in both theoretical and experimental Neuroscience. These students will be trained in state-of-the-art experimental methods, specifically those for complex multidimensional data acquisition, processing and visualization, as these are most prominent in Advanced Imaging Techniques.

We have devised a curriculum to best educate these interdisciplinary students. For predoctoral students, training will be a well-balanced combination of classroom instruction and hands-on labs. For both pre- and postdoctoral students, there will be active journal clubs, mentor-guided research with an internship in the lab of the co-mentor, and conference presentations. Our training faculty of 23 is drawn from six institutions in and around the Texas Medical Center in Houston.

All faculty members are also members of the Gulf Coast Consortium for Theoretical and Computational Neuroscience, which is part of the Gulf Coast Consortia for Interdisciplinary Bioscience Research and Training. Both our spectrum of represented disciplines and existing facilities makes this an ideal site for the proposed training program.

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GCC Theoretical and Computational Neuroscience Executive Committee

Chair

Krešimir Josić, PhD
University of Houston
josic@math.uh.edu

Vice Chair

Harel Shouval, PhD
The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
Harel.Shouval@uth.tmc.edu

Other Serving Members

Fabrizio Gabbiani, PhD
Baylor College of Medicine
gabbiani@bcm.edu

Prahlad Ram, PhD
MD Anderson Cancer Center
pram@mdanderson.org

Kelly Dineley, PhD
The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
ktdinele@utmb.edu

All faculty participating in the Theoretical and Computational Neuroscience Consortium are affiliated with one of the Gulf Coast Consortia member institutions:

Baylor College of Medicine
Rice University
University of Houston
University of Texas Health Science Center - Houston
University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center
University of Texas Medical Branch - Galveston

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