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TU Berlin

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Neural Information Processing Group

We are concerned with the principles underlying information processing in biological systems. On the one hand we want to understand how the brain computes, on the other hand we want to utilize the strategies employed by biological systems for machine learning applications. Our research interests cover three thematic areas.

Models of Neuronal Systems:

Lupe

In collaboration with neurobiologists and clinicians we study how the visual system processes visual information. Research topics include: cortical dynamics, the representation of visual information, adaptation and plasticity, and the role of feedback. More recently we became interested in how perception is linked to cognitive function, and we began to study computational models of decision making in uncertain environments, and how those processes interact with perception and memory.

Machine Learning and Neural Networks:

Lupe

Here we investigate how machines can learn from examples in order to predict and (more recently) act. Research topics include the learning of proper representations, active and semisupervised learning schemes, and prototype-based methods. Motivated by the model-based analysis of decision making in humans we also became interested in reinforcement learning schemes and how these methods can be extended to cope with multi-objective cost functions. In collaboration with colleagues from the application domains, machine learning methods are applied to different problems ranging from computer vision, information retrieval, to chemoinformatics.

Analysis of Neural Data:

Lupe

Here we are interested to apply machine learning and statistical methods to the analysis of multivariate biomedical data, in particular to data which form the basis of our computational studies of neural systems. Research topics vary and currently include spike-sorting and the analysis of multi-tetrode recordings, confocal microscopy and 3D-reconstruction techniques, and the analysis of imaging data. Recently we became interested in the analysis of multimodal data, for example, correlating anatomical, imaging, and genetic data.

Selected Publications

Spatial Separation of Two Different Pathways Accounting for the Generation of Calcium Signals in Astrocytes
Citation key Oschmann2017
Author Oschmann, F., and Mergenthaler, K., and Jungnickel, E., and Obermayer, K.
Year 2017
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1005377
Journal PLoS Computational Biology
Volume 13
Number 2
Abstract Astrocytes integrate and process synaptic information and exhibit calcium (Ca2+) signals in response to incoming information from neighboring synapses. The generation of Ca2+ signals is mostly attributed to Ca2+ release from internal Ca2+ stores evoked by an elevated metabotropic glutamate receptor (mGluR) activity. Different experimental results associated the generation of Ca2+ signals to the activity of the glutamate transporter (GluT). The GluT itself does not influence the intracellular Ca2+ concentration, but it indirectly activates Ca2+ entry over the membrane. A closer look into Ca2+ signaling in different astrocytic compartments revealed a spatial separation of those two pathways. Ca2+ signals in the soma are mainly generated by Ca2+ release from internal Ca2+ stores (mGluR-dependent pathway). In astrocytic compartments close to the synapse most Ca2+ signals are evoked by Ca2+ entry over the plasma membrane (GluT-dependent pathway). This assumption is supported by the finding, that the volume ratio between the internal Ca2+ store and the intracellular space decreases from the soma towards the synapse. We extended a model for mGluR-dependent Ca2+ signals in astrocytes with the GluT-dependent pathway. Additionally, we included the volume ratio between the internal Ca2+ store and the intracellular compartment into the model in order to analyze Ca2+ signals either in the soma or close to the synapse. Our model results confirm the spatial separation of the mGluR- and GluT-dependent pathways along the astrocytic process. The model allows to study the binary Ca2+ response during a block of either of both pathways. Moreover, the model contributes to a better understanding of the impact of channel densities on the interaction of both pathways and on the Ca2+ signal.
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