Research Projects

Brain-i-Nets  Novel Brain-Inspired Learning Paradigms for Large-Scale Neuronal Networks (Project coordinator; funded by the EU, FET-Open)

Abstract: Current designs of neurally inspired computing systems rely on learning rules that appear to be insufficient to port the superior adaptive and computational capabilities of biological neural systems into large-scale recurrent neural hardware system. This is not surprising, since most of these learning rules had to be extrapolated from results of neurobiological experiments in vitro. New experimental techniques in neurobiology – such as 2-photon laser-scanning microscopy, optogenetic cell activation, and dynamic clamp techniques – make it now possible to record the changes that really take place in the intact brain during learning. First results indicate that the rules for synaptic plasticity have in fact to be rewritten. In particular, it appears that local synaptic plasticity is gated in multiple ways by global factors such as neuromodulators and network states. One primary goal of this project is to apply and extend new cutting-edge experimental techniques to produce a set of rules for synaptic plasticity and network reorganisation that describe the actual adaptive processes that take place in the living brain during learning.

PNEUMA  Plasticity in NEUral Memrisitve Architectures (Project leader for TUG; chist-era project)

Project description

FACETS-ITN: Phd-Program: From Neuroscience to Neuro-Inspired Computing

Ph.D. students participate in an exciting research programme and receive a strongly interdisciplinary training in all scientific areas involved as well as in additional skills. The program also includes extended stays in several partner laboratories (about 4 months in 2-3 different locations).

FACETS Fast Analog Computing with Emergent Transient States (Expired, funded by the EU)

Abstract of the research project: Information science has been a major driving force of the economical and social development in the 20th century. Based on the ingenious concept of Alain Turings universal computing machine and the availability of semiconductor based transistors, the IT industry has been able to follow an aggressive roadmap of ever increasing performance according to power laws like the well known Moore's Law. It appears to be a matter of time only until computers will eventually reach the capabilities of the human brain.

Upon closer inspection, however, the brain is dramatically different from conventional computers. The differences are not only due to the use of biological tissue rather than silicon but also in terms of the computing architecture. The brain is not composed out of highly specialized and separated building blocks like a microprocessor but exhibits a rather uniform structure. It does not use Boolean operations like ANDs and ORs to perform logical operations on well defined stable states but involves the dynamics of transient states to code and to process information. Maybe most importantly, there is no engineered software to deal with pre-defined situations. Instead, the brain is based on a huge number of truly massively parallel non-linear processing elements (neurons), a very high connectivity (synapses) and self-organisation (learning, plasticity).

The FACETS project aims to address the unsolved question of how the brain computes with a concerted action of neuroscientists, computer scientists, engineers and physicists. It combines a substantial fraction of the European groups working in the field into a consortium of 13 groups from Austria, France, Germany, Hungary, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK. About 80 scientists will join their efforts over a period of 4 years, starting in September 2005. A project of this dimension has rarely been carried out in the context of brain-science related work in Europe, in particular with such a strong interdisciplinary component.

2010-02-01, Angelika