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About the Center

The long-term mission of the Center for Neural Circuit Dynamics is to discover the fundamental principles underlying brain function, with a focus on how the brain dynamically adapts over multiple timescales. The neural circuitry underlying cognition and behavior is subject to constantly changing environments and behavioral choices. Yet, much of the effort to understand neural computation treats neural activity as dynamics taking place in fixed circuitry and unchanging environments. Our goal is to understand how a circuit's wiring and its dynamics evolve during learning, readjusting with changes in environmental conditions and/or neurological state (such as neurodegenerative disorders, age-related cognitive decline, and drug addiction).

Our approach is driven by fundamental questions in theoretical neuroscience, such as 

Adaptation: How do neural circuits adapt to sensory input, and how do these adaptation dynamics drive the actions an organism makes? How does the feedback loop between sensory input and behavioral decisions shape the computations and dynamics that neural circuits perform?

Learning: How does learning alter circuit architecture, and do learning rules themselves adapt and change in response to environmental conditions, or as a consequence of the individual’s behavioral choices?

Computation: How can a circuit perform context-dependent computations, such as those often required for decision making? And what is the role of neuromodulation in repurposing circuit dynamics underlying those computations?

Deterioration and Disease: How does deterioration or pathology of circuit pathways manifest as neurological disorders, such as epilepsy or Alzheimer’s? Can we understand addiction in terms of changes in neural circuit dynamics?