What is computational neuroscience?

samhall robhayman at madasafish.com
Mon Feb 19 13:26:36 EST 2001

Hello Isidore,
Computational neuroscience is quite diverse a field (like neuroscience in
general) so it may help if you narrow your interests down quite a bit.  As
an example, computational neuroscience can deal with modelling the behaviour
of individual neurons (the primary, and best understood, computational unit
of the brain/ nervous system) or at another extreme the collected behaviour
of entire populations of neurons.  Further examples include modelling human
movement, modelling the organisation of spatial memory (how we "know" where
we are in the world) and also as Arthur mentioned scanning of the brain, as
in PET (positron emission tomography btw :-), or other scanning techniques
such as fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging - basically looking at
how the metabolic/ oxygen needs of different areas of the brain changes
during the performance of certain tasks (getting the the person being
scanned to read a list of words out loud for example).
Some good sites that may help give you an idea of what is currently going on
in the field of computational neuroscience and some of the techniques used

"Arthur T. Murray" <uj797 at victoria.tc.ca> wrote in message
news:3a90e87e at news.victoria.tc.ca...
> "Isidore" <isidore at mailandnews.com wrote on Mon, 19 Feb 2001:
> >    Hello everyone,
> >
> >            I'm a high school student looking to do some research
> > at a Polytechnic University science program over the summer.
> > One of the available research positions deals with computational
> > neuroscience. From what I've seen of neuroscience, it seems
> > like something I'd be interested in doing  research in.
> > I also have an interest in computer science, so I suspect that
> > computational neuroscience might be right up my alley. However, to be
> > honest, I haven't been able to find a comprehensive defininition.
> Computational neuroscience is the field of neuroscience when it
> is treated of in the computational environment, in such endeavors
> as computerized axial tomography (CAT) machines for brainscans,
> positron electron transmission(?) (PET) scans for locating neural
> phenomena by such clues as higher oxygen consumption; neural
> modelling with neural nets in software, and so forth.
> By way of contrast, forensic neuroscience would be the
> neuroscience conducted in the forums of courtrooms, that is,
> legal neuroscience.
> > If anyone could provide information about what research in
> > computational neuroscience entails (in laymen terms, if possible),
> > or can point me to a basic resource, I'd appreciate it.
> A basic project for you to consider is the software emulation
> of neural pathways resulting in artificial intelligence.  Please see
> http://victoria.tc.ca/~uj797/jsaimind.html
> http://www.geocities.com/mentifex/jsaimind.html
> http://www.scn.org/~mentifex/jsaimind.html AI in JavaScript.
> Disclaimer: The above links are to my pet project in creating
> an "Artificial Mind" based both on neuroscience and on
> Chomksyan transformational grammar from linguistics.
> Other discussants in these forums may have more solid
> advice for you than my own overweening ambitions permit.
> > Also, does anyone have any recommendations/tips about if a high
> > school student should work under a mentor to research this?
> >
> >
> > Isidore

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