Assistant Professor, Department of Biology
Ph.D. Columbia University
B.Sc. Sharif University of Technology, Tehran, Iran
Research Interests: Theoretical neuroscience
Overview: Our lab's research is 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 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 large, 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? What roles do the horizontal and feedback connections in sensory cortical areas play in contextual modulation (how e.g. the response of neurons in the visual cortex is affected by the visual context surrounding that stimulus) and ultimately in the dynamical representation of objects? Can the breakup of neural response types in the early auditory system be explained by efficient coding principles?
Sniff Invariant Odor Coding.
eNeuro. 2018 Nov-Dec;5(6):
Authors: Shusterman R, Sirotin YB, Smear MC, Ahmadian Y, Rinberg D
Sampling regulates stimulus intensity and temporal dynamics at the sense organ. Despite variations in sampling behavior, animals must make veridical perceptual judgments about external stimuli. In olfaction, odor sampling varies with respiration, which influences neural responses at the olfactory periphery. Nevertheless, rats were able to perform fine odor intensity judgments despite variations in sniff kinetics. To identify the features of neural activity supporting stable intensity perception, in awake mice we measured responses of mitral/tufted (MT) cells to different odors and concentrations across a range of sniff frequencies. Amplitude and latency of the MT cells' responses vary with sniff duration. A fluid dynamics (FD) model based on odor concentration kinetics in the intranasal cavity can account for this variability. Eliminating sniff waveform dependence of MT cell responses using the FD model allows for significantly better decoding of concentration. This suggests potential schemes for sniff waveform invariant odor concentration coding.
PMID: 30627641 [PubMed - in process]