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Swartz Foundation Contributions to CSHL Neuroscience

Marks swartzFor more information visit The Swartz Foundation was established by Jerry Swartz in 1994 to explore the application of physics, mathematics, and engineering principles to neuroscience as a path to better understanding the mind/brain relationship. The Foundation supports several important aspects of neuroscience research at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

Swartz Centers Dedication

CTN - Swartz Center for Theoretical Neuroscience
CNMC - Swartz Center for the Neural Mechanisms of Cognition
Banbury Center

The Swartz Foundation supports research at eleven centers for theoretical neuroscience: The Salk Institute, California Institute of Technology, New York University, University of California at San Francisco, Brandeis University, University of California at San Diego, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, and most recently, Columbia, Princeton, Yale and Harvard universities. In general, our objective is to understand the distributed dynamics of brain activity and identify principles of brain function in relation to cognition and behavior. Targeted research projects range from experimental investigations of brain circuitry to computational modeling of large-scale neuronal networks to exploration of nonconscious mental processing—all utilizing physical and mathematical principles.

Swartz Center for Theoretical Neuroscience at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory currently includes Anthony Zador, Florin Albeanu, Anne Churchland, Adam Kepecs, Alex Koulakov and Glenn Turner.

The aim of the Center for Neural Mechanisms of Cognition (CNMC) at CSHL is to understand cognition in the normal brain, and to integrate this knowledge with the genetics of cognitive dysfunction to understand the mechanism of diseases progression. The kinds of questions we address at the CNMC are those traditionally studied in non-human primates, but research at the CNMC focuses on cognitive mechanisms in rodents. Research in rodents provides numerous advantages over comparable research in non-human primates, including short training times, low cost, the availability of high-throughput behavioral assays, and the availability of sophisticated electrophysiological, optical, optogenetic and molecular methods. Recent results from the CNMC include studies of the neural correlates of attention (1,2) and confidence (3).

1. Jaramillo, S. and A. M. Zador (2011). "The auditory cortex mediates the perceptual effects of acoustic temporal expectation." Nat Neurosci. 4(2):246-51

2. Otazu, G. H., L. H. Tai, Y. Yang and A. M. Zador (2009). "Engaging in an auditory task suppresses responses in auditory cortex." Nat Neurosci 12(5): 646-54.

3. Kepecs, A., N. Uchida, H. A. Zariwala and Z. F. Mainen (2008). "Neural correlates, computation and behavioural impact of decision confidence." Nature 455(7210): 227-31.

The CNMC currently consists of of Anthony Zador, Adam Kepecs, Florin Albeanu and Anne Churchland.

The Swartz Foundation also organizes and sponsors neuroscience workshops and meetings. Core themes have included communication in brain systems, neurobiology of decision making, and large-scale neural network modeling. The Banbury Center at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory has hosted the following series of workshops since 1998:

  • Searching for Principles Underlying Memory in Biological Systems (April 12-15, 2009)
  • Attention in Visual and Auditory Systems (April 20-23, 2008)
  • New Frontiers in Studies of Nonconscious Procession (2007)
  • Computational Approaches to Cortical Functions (2006)
  • Neurobiology of Decision-Making (2005)
  • Communication in Brain Systems (2004)*
  • Can a Machine be Conscious? (2001)
  • Persistent Neural Activity (2000)*
  • Toward Animal Models of Attention and Consciousness (2000)
  • Functional Organization of the Thalamus and Cortex and their Interactions (1999)
  • Neurocomputational Strategies: From Synapses to Behavior (1998)

* co-sponsored with The Sloan Foundation

Dinu Florin
Dinu Florin Albeanu - Associate Professor
Neuronal circuits; sensory coding and synaptic plasticity; neuronal correlates of behavior; olfactory processing

Swartz Center for Theoretical Neuroscience • Swartz Center for the Neural Mechanisms of Cognition
Anne Churchland - Associate Professor
Decision-making; electrophysiology; sensory processing; vision; audition; neural computation; modeling; behavior

Swartz Center for Theoretical Neuroscience • Swartz Center for the Neural Mechanisms of Cognition
Tatiana Engel - Assistant Professor
Neural dynamics and computation, neural circuit models, machine learning, stochastic processes, dynamical systems theory, decision-making, attention

Investigates how perception and cognition arise from changes in neural activity. Her lab develops and applies computational methods to discover dynamic patterns in large-scale neural activity recordings and creates mathematical models to explain how these activity changes emerge from signaling between neurons, ultimately driving behavior.
Adam Kepecs - Professor
Decision-making; neural circuits; behavioral electrophysiology; theoretical neuroscience; neuroeconomics

Swartz Center for Theoretical Neuroscience • Swartz Center for the Neural Mechanisms of Cognition
Alexei Koulakov - Professor
Theoretical neurobiology; quantitative principles of cortical design; computer science; applied mathematics

Swartz Center for Theoretical Neuroscience
Glenn Turner - Adjunct Associate Professor
Neural coding; learning and memory; sensory processing; Drosophila; electrophysiology

Swartz Center for Theoretical Neuroscience
Anthony Zador - Professor
Neural circuits; sensory processing, attention and decision making; attention; molecular tool development; connectomics

Swartz Center for Theoretical Neuroscience • Swartz Center for the Neural Mechanisms of Cognition