Institute of Neuroscience
Departments of Biology and Mathematics
University of Oregon
Office: 238 Huestis Hall
Email: yashar at uoregon dot edu
1254 University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403
We do research in theoretical neuroscience.
Our broad interest is in understanding how large networks of neurons, e.g. those in the mammalian cerebral cortex, process sensory inputs and give rise to higher-level cognitive functions and intelligent behavior through their collective dynamics on multiple time scales.
To shed light on the complexity of neurobiological phenomena we use mathematical models that capture a few core concepts or computational and dynamical principles.
We also work on developing new statistical and computational tools for analyzing complex, high-dimensional neurobiological and behavioral datasets. In pursuing these goals we use techniques from statistical physics, random matrix theory, machine learning and information theory. We collaborate with experimental labs here in the University of Oregon and elsewhere.
Current questions of interest include the following.
- How do randomness and nonnormality in the connectivity structure of networks affect their dynamics?
- How do the horizontal and feedback connections in sensory cortical areas shape their intrinsic dynamics, and how does this internal dynamics interact with incoming sensory inputs?
- What is the role of recurrent connections in ubiquitous cortical computations like contextual modulation (how the response of neurons is affected by the sensory context of driving stimuli their receptive fields)? What is their role in shaping temporally stable perceptions given fast changing, ambiguous and noisy inputs?
We will approach these question from both the bottom-up/mechanistic level, but also from the top-down or normative level informed by the hypothesized computational goals of the system in question.