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Computational Neuroscience

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New Perspectives on Mental Illness

Modern psychiatry is at a crossroads, as it attempts to balance neurological analysis with psychological assessment. Computational neuroscience offers a new lens through which to view such thorny issues as diagnosis, treatment, and integration with neurobiology. In this volume, psychiatrists and theoretical and computational neuroscientists consider the potential of computational approaches to psychiatric issues.

This textbook presents a wide range of subjects in neuroscience from a computational perspective. It offers a comprehensive, integrated introduction to core topics, using computational tools to trace a path from neurons and circuits to behavior and cognition. Moreover, the chapters show how computational neuroscience—methods for modeling the causal interactions underlying neural systems—complements empirical research in advancing the understanding of brain and behavior.

Before The Computational Brain was published in 1992, conceptual frameworks for brain function were based on the behavior of single neurons, applied globally. In The Computational Brain, Patricia Churchland and Terrence Sejnowski developed a different conceptual framework, based on large populations of neurons. They did this by showing that patterns of activities among the units in trained artificial neural network models had properties that resembled those recorded from populations of neurons recorded one at a time.

Foundations of Neural Computation

Since its founding in 1989 by Terrence Sejnowski, Neural Computation has become the leading journal in the field. Foundations of Neural Computationcollects, by topic, the most significant papers that have appeared in the journal over the past nine years.This volume of Foundations of Neural Computation, on unsupervised learning algorithms, focuses on neural network learning algorithms that do not require an explicit teacher. The goal of unsupervised learning is to extract an efficient internal representation of the statistical structure implicit in the inputs.

Crucial to understanding how the brain works is connectivity, and the centerpiece of brain connectivity is the connectome, a comprehensive description of how neurons and brain regions are connected. In this book, Olaf Sporns surveys current efforts to chart these connections—to map the human connectome. He argues that the nascent field of connectomics has already begun to influence the way many neuroscientists collect, analyze, and think about their data.

Over the last decade, the study of complex networks has expanded across diverse scientific fields. Increasingly, science is concerned with the structure, behavior, and evolution of complex systems ranging from cells to ecosystems. In Networks of the Brain, Olaf Sporns describes how the integrative nature of brain function can be illuminated from a complex network perspective.

Laboratory research on human attention has often been conducted under conditions that bear little resemblance to the complexity of our everyday lives. Although this research has yielded interesting discoveries, few scholars have truly connected these findings to natural experiences. This book bridges the gap between “laboratory and life” by bringing together cutting-edge research using traditional methodologies with research that focuses on attention in everyday contexts.

Adaptivity and Search in Evolving Neural Systems

Emergence—the formation of global patterns from solely local interactions—is a frequent and fascinating theme in the scientific literature both popular and academic. In this book, Keith Downing undertakes a systematic investigation of the widespread (if often vague) claim that intelligence is an emergent phenomenon. Downing focuses on neural networks, both natural and artificial, and how their adaptability in three time frames—phylogenetic (evolutionary), ontogenetic (developmental), and epigenetic (lifetime learning)—underlie the emergence of cognition.

The vast differences between the brain’s neural circuitry and a computer’s silicon circuitry might suggest that they have nothing in common. In fact, as Dana Ballard argues in this book, computational tools are essential for understanding brain function. Ballard shows that the hierarchical organization of the brain has many parallels with the hierarchical organization of computing; as in silicon computing, the complexities of brain computation can be dramatically simplified when its computation is factored into different levels of abstraction.

The event-related potential (ERP) technique, in which neural responses to specific events are extracted from the EEG, provides a powerful noninvasive tool for exploring the human brain. This volume describes practical methods for ERP research along with the underlying theoretical rationale. It offers researchers and students an essential guide to designing, conducting, and analyzing ERP experiments. This second edition has been completely updated, with additional material, new chapters, and more accessible explanations.

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