Temporal Dynamics within Networks of Neurons

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Date/Time:Monday, 28 Oct 2013 from 4:10 pm to 5:00 pm
Location:Physics 0003
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Rhonda Dzakpasu (Georgetown Univ)

The brain is a unique complex dynamical system. Not only do its emergent properties stem from the complex interactions between its fundamental unit, the neuron, but the neuron itself is also a complex system. Emergent activity, detectable in the form of collective rhythmic dynamics, arises from networks of neurons and these dynamics are vital for cognitive functions such as attention, memory formation, learning and sleep. A major challenge for the brain is to maintain a stable operating state while retaining sufficient flexibility to grow and experience plasticity in response to external stimuli. But how these two opposing constraints reconcile remains an open question. I will discuss the complexity of neurons and some results from our lab that explores how an in vitro network of neurons attempts to achieve this balance.

Rhonda Dzakpasu is Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professor at Georgetown University, Department of Physics as well as Department of Pharmacology and Physiology. She received a B.S. in Computer Science from The City College of New York and a Ph.D. in experimental optical physics from the University of Michigan, where she also worked for her postdoctoral training. Her current research incorporates experimental in vitro, as well as computational, techniques to probe the dynamical patterns that arise from the interactions within networks of neurons.