Neural Computations Underlying Collision Avoidance Behaviors<-- Return to the list
Start Time: 11:00am
End Time: 12:00pm
Speaker: Dr. Fabrizio Gabbiani
From: Dept. of Neuroscience, Baylor College of Medicine
Location: 414 CEPSR
Hosted by: Prof. Aurel Lazar
Abstract: Understanding how the brain processes sensory information in real-time to generate meaningful behaviors is one of the outstanding contemporary challenges of neuroscience. Visually guided collision avoidance behaviors are nearly universal in animals endowed with spatial vision and offer a favorable opportunity to address this question. This talk will summarize the current understanding of their generation at the level of neural networks, single neurons and their ion channels. The focus will be on a model system that has proven particularly well-suited for this purpose, the locust brain, but will also tie the results learned in this preparation to studies carried out in a wide range of other species. Engineering developments that have enabled and been part of this research will be highlighted as well.
Speaker Bio: Fabrizio Gabbiani received his Ph.D. from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zürich (ETHZ) in 1992. His Ph.D. work, under the guidance of Dr. Jürg Fröhlich, was in algebraic quantum field theory, focusing on the development of its formalism for two-dimensional conformal field theories. Following his Ph.D., his research interests shifted towards computational and systems neuroscience as he spent one additional year in Zürich developing models of cerebellar granule cells under the guidance of Drs. Thomas Knöpfel and Klaus Hepp. In 1994, he joined the groups of Drs. Christof Koch and Gilles Laurent at Caltech where he first analyzed information coding in neuronal spike trains using statistical signal processing techniques. In collaboration with experimentalists, he then applied these methods to spike trains of neurons at successive stages of the electrosensory system of weakly electric fish. In 2000, he joined the department of Neuroscience at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. His work there, initially started at Caltech, has focused on understanding how single neurons carry out the computations necessary to implement collision avoidance behaviors. Dr. Gabbiani, was an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow and is a recipient of the Humboldt Research Award. He is co-author of a book entitled "Mathematics for Neuroscientists", published in 2010 by Academic Press. He is currently a visiting faculty at the Max-Planck Institute of Neurobiology in Martinsried, Germany.