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OCNS logo Examining the dynamic nature of neural representations with the olfactory system

26 July 2012, at the CNS*2012 conference at Atlanta/Decatur.


The transformations implemented by early sensory relays are central to the brain's ability to experience the vast bandwidth of raw sensory data as meaningful percepts. Studies of these early sensory relays have provided invaluable insight into many fundamental operating principles of the nervous system. While the neurons that comprise sensory circuits are complex dynamical entities, many studies of these systems have progressed on the premise that their core function is well-approximated by steady-state measurements or with reference to canonical dynamical end states such as limit cycles. This view has been particularly prevalent and successful in vision and audition. However, it is likely that the ongoing intrinsic dynamics of the nervous system are central to the emergence of coherent behaviour. Consequently, there is pressing need to understand the temporally extended dynamics of neural systems.

In contrast to the vision and audition, olfaction is an intrinsically dynamic sense. The rich temporal dynamics present in the olfactory system allow animals to experience complexly structured plumes of different combinations of chemicals as individual olfactory percepts. Consequently, the olfactory system provides the perfect early sensory relay to explore the dynamic phenomena at the heart of the operation of the nervous system.

In this workshop we focus on two topics where recent work in olfaction has shed light on the nature and mechanisms of neural representations in the nervous system.

First, we examine how odour identity is encoded in the population rate activity of the olfactory system. We discuss whether odour identities are best described by discrete or smooth representations. We discuss what kind of dynamics metaphor can best capture this phenomena, attractor neural networks, heteroclinic orbits or FP dynamics.

Second we discuss insight in to the nature and role stimulus evoked neural oscillations that have been developed through studies of the olfactory system. We discus the origin and structure of these oscillations, their relation to the input stimulus and their role in odour encoding."

List of Confirmed Speakers

Maxim Bazhenov University of California Riverside, USA
Kevin Daly West Virginia University, USA
Nitin Gupta National Institutes of Health, USA
Aurel A. Lazar Columbia University, USA
Il Memming Park , University of Texas at Austin, USA
Johannes Reisert Monell Chemical Senses Center, USA
Martin A. Nawrot Freie Universität Berlin, Germany
Christopher L. Buckley RIKEN Brain Institute, Japan
Thomas Nowotny University of Sussex, UK
Remus Osan Georgia State University, USA

This workshop is organised in the framework of the CNS*2012 conference in Atlanta/Decatur and the workshop registration fee applies.

Olfaction workshop


Christopher L. Buckley
RIKEN Brain Institute

Thomas Nowotny
University of Sussex

Taro Toyoizumi
RIKEN Brain Institute