Systems neuroscience studies the structure and function of neural circuits and systems.
It is multidisciplinary in nature since it encompasses a number of areas of study concerned with how nerve cells behave when connected together to form neural pathways, neural circuits, and larger brain networks.
At BGU, system neuroscientists study how different neural circuits analyze sensory information, form perceptions of the external world, make decisions, and execute movements.
Here, we are concerned with the relation between molecular and cellular approaches to understanding brain structure and function, as well as with the study of high-level cognitive and behavioral functions.
System Neuroscience Researchers
I believe that the function of sensory networks and consequently sensory processing depend critically on the cellular properties of neurons, their anatomical organization and the properties of their synaptic interactions. At present, we understand a great deal separately about each of these aspects of neuronal organization but we lack essential information linking these areas of knowledge. Our goal is to piece together these aspects underlying tactile perception. I believe that this approach is essential for the understanding of how neuronal networks encode and store information, taking into account the full capabilities of the member neuron in the network. This in turn may provide us with fundamentally innovative tools to understand the relations between behavior and cellular function.
The interdisciplinary Computational Vision Lab
(iCVL) studies biological (and in particular, human) vision and machine vision
from both theoretical and applied perspectives. We bring together these fields
to (1) develop algorithmic solutions to challenges in computer vision and image
understanding, (2) devise computational explanations of biological visual
function, and (2) employ insights from studying vision for exploration of other
types of information processing, both sensory and cognitive. To meet these goals,
research is highly interdisciplinary, involving various combinations of
computational and mathematical work, machine learning techniques, behavioral
exploration and visual psychophysics (with both humans and animals), and
inquiry into visual neuroscience
Studies brain function and structure in developmental disorders including autism and ADHD with a strong emphasis on toddlers who have just been diagnosed. Onging projects include sensory, motor, and resting-state experiments using EEG and fMRI to study brain function as well as anatomical and DTI MRI scans to study brain structure.
Prof. Dinstein is the director of the National Autism Research Center located in BGU (www.autismisrael.org).
Studies motor control with behavioral, electrophysiology and neuroimaging techniques with a particular interest in understanding the function of the cerebellum.
We employ computational
and experimental (in vitro and in vivo) approaches to understand the molecular
basis of neurodegenerative diseases, in particularly ALS. We focus on
elucidating the molecular mechanism of SOD1 structural transformation into
noxious species, the mechanism of their neurotoxicity and the ability of
self-propagation, and the development of therapeutic approaches to ameliorate
SOD1-dependent neurotoxicity in ALS.
Studies the pathophysiology of several brain disorders and the effects of stress on the nervous system. Human and animal studies focus on dysfunction of the blood-brain barrier in epilepsy and neurodegenerative diseases, developing new imaging methods and novel therapies for the prevention and treatment of injury-related epilepsy and neurodegeneration.
I work in the fields of theoretical and computational neuroscience and neurophysics, and study the dynamics of large neuronal networks. My research has focused on information processing in the whisker somatosensory-motor system, where active sensing is crucial for perception. Using theoretical and computational methods, I study how cortical circuits with several types of interneurons process thalamic input. In another project, I investigate the generation and synchronization of whisking and sniffing rhythms in the brainstem, the generation of neuronal signals in response to whisker contact, and the computational role of somatosensory-motor loops in the brainstem.
Our goal is to investigate how parasites, using a cocktail of neurotoxins and neuromodulators, manipulate neuronal circuits to control the behavior of their hosts.
We approach this goal at the molecular, cellular, network and behavioral levels.
As a consequence, we are also interested in motor control and the pharmacology of neurotoxins and neuromodulators.
The maidenbaum lab studies the interaction between humans and their surrounding environment - how do we represent our spatial surroundings in our brain? How are these representations modulated by different sensory input channels and by memory? How are real, virtual and augmented environments coded? And how can we use insights from this basic science in order to rehabilitate, assist and augment human spatial skills?
We use naturalistic gamified paradigms in order to test human spatial memory and navigation in healthy participants and in patients, and computational models in order to decode environmental features such as directions, locations, and targets.
The lab is also interested in non-physical spaces, aiming to extend findings from spatial cognition to other dimensions such as time, social and abstract concept spaces.
My students and I apply neuroscience theories about the human sensorimotor control, perception, adaptation, learning, and skill acquisition in the development of human-operated medical and surgical robotic systems. We also use robots, haptic devices, and other mechatronic devices as a platform to understand the human sensorimotor system in real-life tasks like surgery, and in virtual tasks like virtual reality games or surgical simulation. We hope that this research will improve the quality of treatment for patients, will facilitate better training of surgeons, advance the technology of teleoperation and haptics, and advance our understanding of the brain.
Sensory perception may appear as a straightforward process. The sensory stimulus is detected and its characteristics are passed “forward". However, perception is shaped by numerous factors, such as our environment, emotional state & health. For instance, the sound of approaching footsteps is perceived as safe when walking down a well-lit street but as dangerous when walking down a dark alley. Understanding how sound is transformed into a sensory experience necessitates studying all levels of resolution- from the molecular mechanisms to the organism's behavior. To achieve this, we combine state of the art circuit neuroscience tools such as in-vivo electrophysiology, optogenetics, rodent behavior and in-vivo two-photon imaging, to study brain activity and network connectivity as animals engage in auditory perceptual tasks. Our ultimate goal is to understand the link between auditory sensation and the perceptual experience; and how changes in auditory perception can sometimes improve our daily decision-making, while other times, distort the neural representation of sensory stimuli, contributing to sensory and mental health disorders.
We are interested in information processing in the visual system. Specifically how the information, which enters the eye in the form of light, enables the animal to find and identify objects in space. In addition, we are interested in how animal navigated in the world, a task is heavily linked with learning and memory of the environment.
With the vast advancement of empirical techniques for recording, imaging and manipulating neural responses, the quantitative aspect of brain research is becoming increasingly more important. Theoretical physics offers a wide range of theoretical tools and concepts that were successfully applied in other fields of natural sciences.
In my lab we apply tools and concepts from: Statistical Mechanics, Nonlinear Dynamics, Theory of Disordered Systems and Information Theory to the investigation of the central nervous system. Specifically my lab focuses on two central challenges: the neural code and neural learning theory.
Studies the critical alterations within the brain reward system that are associated with pathological conditions, and how localized electromagnetic stimulation (using TMS) of these networks can affect such conditions in animal models and humans with a specific focus on molecular and electrophysiological alterations in reward-related networks that are associated with and may cause depression, addiction and attention deficit disorders.