POSTPONED - Feindel Virtual Brain and Mind Lecture Series: Learning function from structure in neuromorphic networks


Laura Usme presents, "Learning function from structure in neuromorphic networks".

Registration available here.

Speaker: Laura Usme, Ph.D. student

The Neuro, McGill University

Abstract: The connection patterns of neural circuits in the brain form a complex network. Collective signaling within the network manifests as patterned neural activity, and is thought to support human cognition and adaptive behavior. Recent technological advances permit macro-scale reconstructions of biological brain networks. These maps, termed connectomes, display multiple non-random architectural features, including heavy-tailed degree distributions, segregated communities and a densely interconnected core. Yet, how computation and functional specialization emerge from network architecture remains unknown. Here we reconstruct human brain connectomes using in vivo diffusion-weighted imaging, and use reservoir computing to implement connectomes as artificial neural networks. We then train these neuromorphic networks to learn a memory encoding task. We show that biologically realistic neural architectures perform best when they display critical dynamics. We find that performance is driven by network topology, and that the modular organization of intrinsic networks is computationally relevant. Throughout, we observe a prominent interaction between network structure and dynamics, such that the same underlying architecture can support a wide range of memory capacity values as well as different functions (encoding or decoding), depending on the dynamical regime the network is in. This work opens new opportunities to discover how the network organization of the brain optimizes cognitive capacity.

Bio: Laura Usme is a PhD candidate in the Integrated Program in Neuroscience at McGill University under the co-supervision of Dr. Bratislav Mišić and Dr. Guillaume Lajoie. Her academic interests lie at the intersection of artificial intelligence and neuroscience. Broadly, her research revolves around the structure-function relationship in biological brains. Specifically looking at understanding how network structure and dynamics interact to shape the computational capacity of the brain, and how we can use this knowledge to establish design principles for the development of better neuromorphic architectures.

The Feindel Virtual Brain and Mind (VBM) Seminar Series will advance the vision of Dr. William Feindel (1918–2014), Former Director of the Neuro (1972–1984), to constantly bridge the clinical and research realms. The talks will highlight the latest advances and discoveries in neuropsychology, cognitive neuroscience, and neuroimaging.

Speakers will include scientists from across The Neuro, as well as colleagues and collaborators locally and from around the world. The series is intended to provide a virtual forum for scientists and trainees to continue to foster interdisciplinary exchanges on the mechanisms, diagnosis and treatment of brain and cognitive disorders.

Contact Information

Sasha Kelly
Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital
sasha.kelly [at]

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The Neuro (Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital) is a McGill research and teaching institute; delivering high-quality patient care, as part of the Neuroscience Mission of the McGill University Health Centre. We are proud to be a Killam Institution, supported by the Killam Trusts.




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