Pedagogical Workshop in Neurophysics

Coordinators: Laurence F. Abbott, William Bialek, Bard Ermentrout, David Kleinfeld, Partha Pratim Mitra, Sebastian Seung, Boris Shraiman, Misha Tsodyks

This aspect of the program is a two week long workshop with approximately 5 hours of lecture each day(morning and afternoon sessions with time for breaks) and a discussion period in the evening.


Nominally 2 weeks, 6 days per week, with each day to have 2-three hour lectures. Faculty: The workshop organizers(Kleinfeld, Seung and Tsodyks) plus 3 to 6 additional individuals.

Monday, July 23: Scales and Measurements in Neuroscience(David Kleinfeld, lecturer)

The goal is to establish basic neurophysiological principles starting, as much as possible, from basic physical principles. Biophysical scales of voltage, energy consumption, physical size, etc., will be reviewed for all aspects of the nervous system. The role of using chemical versus electrical processing will be discussed as a means to insure spatial localization of dynamics. The role of generic control for multistability in cell and synaptic function will be discussed.

The role of thermal noise in setting detection limits in sensory processing as well as in biophysical measurements will be presented. We will also review classical measurement schemes, such as voltage clamp, patch recording, extracellular unit recording, the use of optical based contrast agents, and basic anatomical techniques, including classical functional techniques.

Tuesday, July 24: Single Cell Dynamics(Larry Abbott, lecturer)

The goal is to review basic neuronal and synaptic physiology with an emphasis on common principles and modern analysis techniques. The basis of action potential generation, the control of firing properties with a plethora of channels, and the reduction of single cell dynamics to low dimensional systems will be presented, along with system identification of cell parameters through experimentation. Diffusion and chemical waves as a means of local computation and control in neuronal processes will be addressed.

The dynamic properties of synapses, particularly with regard to short-term plasticity, are viewed both from a biophysical and a functional perspective. Emphasis is placed on the role of genetics and chemical networks in maintaining synaptic function. Lastly, the general issue of cell homeostasis is considered, with a discussion of mechanisms to maintain cell parameters like threshold levels and gain.

Wednesday, July 25: Simple Feedback Networks: Central Pattern Generators(David Kleinfeld, lecturer) and Recurrent Excitation(Larry Abbott, lecturer)

The goal is to describe the common themes in the process of rhythmic motor output, as occurs in respiration, oral tasks like chewing, licking, and whisking, and motor tasks like walking and swimming. Two aspects of motor control are presented. First, the general rhythmic patterns at the single cell or small network level, and second, the interaction among oscillators to form ungulatory motions, as occurs in swimming. The connection between the experimental data and biophysically-based as well as abstract models will be discussed. Particular emphasis will be placed on four systems: gustation in the crab as an example of a network oscillator under the control of cellular properties, swimming in Tritonia as an example of a purely network oscillator, swimming in the lamprey as an example of interacting network oscillators, and respiration in the rodent as an example of a multi-state oscillator.

Thursday, July 26: Lateral Inhibition and Excitation in Vision(Sebastian Seung, lecturer)

The phenomenon of feature selectivity has long been obse