Multiregional Neural Dynamics and Distributed Control of Cognitive Computations
Jorge Jaramillo, Ph.D.
Center for Neural Science,
New York University,
New York, NY
Abstract: Computational modeling of cognitive processes has largely focused on single cortical areas, but the engagement of multi-regional brain circuits in these processes is not completely understood. In the first part of my talk, I will present a circuit model to study the shared and unique roles of frontal and parietal cortices in a variety of cognitive tasks. We found that structural differences between these cortical areas map onto complementary dynamical regimes that subserve working memory and decision-making computations. Next, I consider the primate pulvinar, which is the largest part of the visual thalamus and is reciprocally connected to multiple visual and association cortical areas. I put forward a framework of pulvino-cortical interactions to clarify the pulvinar’s involvement in attention, confidence, and communication. I will also present a circuit model of thalamo-cortical interactions during motor planning, constrained by multisite recordings in the mouse. We propose that subcortical inputs to the thalamus selectively gate cortical ‘activity modes’ relevant for movement. Overall, the modeling results support the existence of computational principles for distributed and large-scale interactions in the brain that we are only beginning to uncover. At the end of the talk, I will suggest a roadmap towards ‘cognitive Deep Brain Stimulation’, which combines large-scale circuit modeling with a ‘virtual’ stimulation protocol to study the effects of exogenous stimulation on cognitive processes.
Brief Bio: I am currently a postdoctoral associate in the lab of Prof. Xiao-Jing Wang at the New York University Center for Neural Science. I received a PhD in Computational Neuroscience in Berlin, Germany under the supervision of Prof. Richard Kempter. I converged onto Computational Neuroscience after majoring in Electronics Engineering (Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana Medellin, Colombia) and obtaining a joint Erasmus Mundus master in Applied Physics and Nanotechnology (Delft University of Technology: Delft, The Netherlands and Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden). The exposure to these quantitative research fields endowed me with a unique interdisciplinary perspective to approach the complexity of neural computation. Particularly, I’m interested in discovering principles for distributed computation in the brain and applying them to explore new avenues for the treatment of mental disorders.