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Physics Colloquium Series

Date: Thursday, December 5th, 2019

Speaker: Luca Mazzucato, UO Biology Dept.

Title: The role of time in neural circuits and behavior

Abstract:  Spontaneous behavior in animals and humans shows a striking amount of variability both in the spatial domain (which actions to choose) and temporal domain (when to act). Concatenating actions into sequences and behavioral plans reveals the existence of a hierarchy of timescales ranging from hundreds of milliseconds to minutes. How does such a complex spatiotemporal structure emerge from neural circuits dynamics? In this talk, we will present recent results from experiments and theory suggesting a new computational mechanism generating the temporal variability underlying naturalistic behavior. We will show how neural activity from the secondary motor cortex of rats unfolds through temporal sequences of attractors, which predict the intention to act. These sequences naturally emerge from recurrent cortical networks, and correlations play a crucial role in explaining the variability in action timing. We will then discuss how processing time in these recurrent circuits can be accelerated or slowed down via neuromodulation or perturbation. Finally, we will borrow ideas from spin glasses to speculate on the origin of the observed hierarchies of timescales.

Location: Room 100, Willamette hall

Host: Jayson Paulose

Please join us for a catered reception at 3:40pm in the Paul Olum, Willamette Hall Atrium.

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