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2013 CNBC Retreat Tentative Schedule | Print |

Events held in Sunburst Room unless otherwise noted.

Friday, October 11

5:00 pm Check-in for guests with Friday arrivals

7:00 pm

Pizza/Salad/Soft Drinks

Training Program Overview
Peter Strick & Mike Tarr, CNBC Co-Directors
Carol Colby & Dave Touretzky, CNBC Education Committee Co-Chairs

Student Data Blitz
Seasons Room 1-3


Saturday, October 12

8:30 am

Continental Breakfast, Seasons 4-5
Meeting, Sunburst Room

8:55 am


Steven Chase, Ph.D.
CNBC & Biomedical Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University

Matthew Smith, Ph.D.
Ophthalmology, University of Pittsburgh

9:00-10:30 am

Session 1: Collaborative Computational Neuroscience
Moderator: Matthew Smith

Steven Chase, Ph.D.
CNBC & Biomedical Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University
Internal model mismatch is responsible for the majority of errors in neuroprosthetic control (abstract)

Bard Ermentrout, Ph.D.
Mathematics, University of Pittsburgh
Heterogeneity & Synchronization in the Olfactory Bulb (abstract)

Byron Yu, Ph.D.
Electrical & Computer Engineering and Biomedical Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University
Neural Constraints on Learning (abstract)

10:30-11:00 am



11:00-12:30 pm


Session 2: Social Neuroscience
Moderator: Steven Chase

Mina Cikara, Ph.D.
Social & Decision Sciences, Carnegie Mellon University
There is less ‘I’ in teams: Reduced self-referential neural response during intergroup competition predicts competitor harm (abstract)

Michael Sayette, Ph.D.
Psychology, University of Pittsburgh
Kasey Griffin-Creswell, Ph.D.
Psychology, Carnegie Mellon University
The Effects of Alcohol on Emotion and Bonding: Examining Addiction in a Social Context (abstract)

Anna Marsland, Ph.D.
Psychology, University of Pittsburgh
Systemic Inflammation and Neurocognitive Aging (abstract)

12:30-1:30 pm

Box Lunch & Faculty/Post Doc/Student meetings

Faculty Lunch/Meeting in Wintergreen

Post Doc Lunch/Meeting in Hemlock

Student Lunch/Meeting in Sunburst
(Students please pick up lunch in Seasons 4-5)


1:30-3:00 pm


Free Time
(Student Reps organizing events)

3:00-4:00 pm

Session 3: Sensory Systems Neuroscience
Moderator: Matthew Smith

Tai Sing Lee, Ph.D.
CNBC & Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University
Computational circuits in the visual cortex for 3D perception (abstract)

Anne-Marie Oswald-Doiron, Ph.D.
Neuroscience, University of Pittsburgh
Spatial profile of inhibition in piriform cortex (abstract)

4:00-5:10 pm

Keynote Address:

David Sheinberg, Ph.D.
Department of Neuroscience
Division of Biology and Medicine
Brown University
Objects, space, and predicting the future (abstract)

Sunburst Room


5:10-5:30 pm


Refreshment Break
Seasons 4-5


5:30-6:50 pm


Panel Discussion: Putting our Brains to the Brain Initiative
Moderator: Alison Barth

Tom Mitchell, Ph.D.
Machine Learning, Carnegie Mellon University

Marlene Behrmann, Ph.D.
Psychology, Carnegie Mellon University

Bard Ermentrout, Ph.D.
Mathematics, University of Pittsburgh

Michael Sayette, Ph.D.
Psychology, University of Pittsburgh

David Sheinberg, Ph.D.
Neuroscience, Brown University

7:00-9:30 pm

Dinner & Poster Session
Exhibit Hall



Steven Chase, Ph.D.

Title: Internal model mismatch is responsible for the majority of errors in neuroprosthetic control
Abstract: Sensory feedback delays make it impossible for us to have real-time knowledge of the positions of our limbs. We can compensate for these delays by using an internal model of how our limbs respond to motor commands to predict the sensory consequences of those commands. This in turn allows us to generate appropriate motor commands before resulting sensory feedback becomes available, allowing for the fast, fluid production of a series of movements. Here we present evidence that subjects perform feedback delay compensation when operating neuroprosthetic devices. Using a novel inference technique, we are able to extract the subject’s internal model of the prosthetic system, and infer his moment-by-moment estimate of the real-time position of the device. Surprisingly, we find that a mismatch between the subject’s internal model and the actual dynamics of the prosthesis explain the majority of the subject’s control errors. Our ability to extract internal models from neural population activity enables inspection into the real-time decision making processes that unfold throughout motor control. The neuroprosthetic control system thus provides a paradigm through which we may probe the neural underpinnings of feedback motor control and motor learning.

Mina Cikara, Ph.D.

Title: There is less ‘I’ in teams: Reduced self-referential neural response during intergroup competition predicts competitor harm
Abstract: Why do interactions become more hostile when relations shift from “me versus you” to “us versus them"? One possibility is that acting with a group reduces the accessibility of one’s own personal moral standards. We tested this hypothesis in an fMRI experiment in which (i) participants performed a competitive task once alone, and once with a group; (ii) the salience of participants’ own moral standards during competition was indexed unobtrusively by activation in a region of the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC); and (iii) we assessed participants’ willingness to harm competitors versus teammates. Consistent with previous competitive groups research, participants harmed out-group members more than in-group members. Critically, the degree to which participants were willing to carry out such harm was associated with the degree to which they exhibited reduced mPFC activation in response to first person moral statements while competing in a group (but not when competing alone). These effects did not hold for non-moral statements. These results suggest that acting as part of a competitive group can reduce the accessibility of one’s own moral standards and, in turn, enable out-group harm.

Bard Ermentrout, Ph.D.

Title: Heterogeneity & Synchronization in the Olfactory Bulb
Abstract: Synchronous neural oscillations are found throughout the brain and are believed to contribute to information processing and coding. One mechanism of synchrony is through the driving of intrinsic neural oscillators with correlated noise. Here we use some recently developed theory in conjunction with experimental recordings in the mouse olfactory bulb to study the effects of heterogeneity on the ability of neurons to synchronize. We find, somewhat surprisingly, that in some circumstances heterogeneity will improve synchronization.

Joint work with Nathan Urban, Shawn Burton, and Pengcheng Zhou

Tai Sing Lee, Ph.D.

Title: Computational circuits in the visual cortex for 3D perception
Abstract: Our perceptual systems are shaped by our natural environment. Statistical structures of the natural environment thus provide important clues for understanding the neural representations and functional circuitry underlying the computational processes of  visual perception. I will discuss our research program in linking statistical structures of 3D scenes and the computational circuits for 3D perception in the primary visual cortex  by bringing together approaches in computer vision, machine learning and neurophysiology.  We have uncovered evidence that suggests  the existence of a disparity association field in the primary visual cortex that helps to resolve local depth ambiguity and perform surface interpolation in 3D inference using recurrent connections,  and more importantly, evidence that argues Markov random fields and Boltzmann machines are viable  computational framework for conceptualizing computation in the visual cortex.

Anna Marsland, Ph.D.

Title: Systemic Inflammation and Neurocognitive Aging
Abstract: Aging is associated with declining cognitive performance, particularly on tests of episodic memory and executive functioning. These cognitive declines begin in early adulthood and eventually impact quality of life and predict risk of dementia and functional impairment. As the US population ages, it is critical to identify early risk factors for accelerated cognitive aging that can be targeted by preventative intervention. Subclinical changes in brain morphology across mid-life precede declines in cognitive test performance and predict future risk for dementia. However, to date, the biological bases for these age-related changes in brain structure remain unclear. A number of risk factors for brain atrophy have been identified, including hypertension, metabolic factors, and decreased physical activity. Inflammatory pathways play a critical role in all of these risk factors and may be a central physiological mediator for brain atrophy and cognitive decline. Our findings show that markers of systemic inflammation are inversely associated with gray matter volumes of the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex and the integrity of the white matter skeleton among healthy mid-life adults, with initial evidence that inflammation is a statistical mediator of associations of brain morphology with cognitive function. These findings provide initial support for a neurobiological pathway by which inflammation could impact the brain systems implicated in memory and executive function.

Anne-Marie Oswald-Doiron, Ph.D.

Title: Spatial profile of inhibition in piriform cortex
Abstract: Odor information is processed and encoded by the neural circuitry of the piriform cortex. Intracortical inhibitory circuits play an important role in mediating the timing and sparseness of neural responses during olfactory processing. However, compared to the circuitry of other primary sensory cortices, relatively little is known about the spatial profile of inhibitory circuits in the piriform cortex. We use optogenetics and patch clamp recordings to map the inhibitory connections between neurons in piriform cortex slice preparations from transgenic mice. We find there are distinct inhibitory circuits with spatial profiles that depend on laminar location as well as postsynaptic neuron subtype. It is likely that these diverse inhibitory circuits make functionally differentcontributions to the processing of odor information in the piriform cortex.

Michael Sayette, Ph.D.
Kasey Griffin-Creswell, Ph.D.

Title: The Effects of Alcohol on Emotion and Bonding: Examining Addiction in a Social Context
Abstract: We report on a project that integrates research on emotion and small groups to address a fundamental question facing alcohol researchers: What are the specific mechanisms by which drinking alcohol is rewarding? We used a group formation paradigm to evaluate the socio-emotional effects of alcohol. Seven-hundred-twenty social drinkers (half female) were assembled into three-person unacquainted groups, and given a moderate dose of alcohol, placebo, or nonalcohol (control) beverage, which they consumed over 36 minutes. Their social interaction was video-recorded, and the duration and sequence of facial and speech behaviors were systematically coded (e.g., using Paul Ekman's Facial Action Coding System). Alcohol consumption enhanced socio-emotional experience at both individual- and group-levels. Results across multiple response systems indicate alcohol facilitates bonding during group formation. Individuals who experience more reward from alcohol in social contexts may be at heightened risk for developing and maintaining problematic drinking. We found that individual differences in a dopamine-regulating gene (i.e., DRD4 VNTR) moderated the impact of alcohol on perceived social bonding. Results suggest a specific pathway by which social factors may increase risk for problematic drinking among a subset of young adults. Assessing nonverbal responses in social contexts offers new directions for evaluating the effects of alcohol on emotion, for understanding mechanisms by which alcohol may prove especially reinforcing to certain individuals, and more generally, for integrating neurobiological and social research on addictive behaviors.

David Sheinberg, Ph.D.

Title: Objects, space, and predicting the future
Abstract: Our goal is to better understand how the brain processes sensory information to guide intelligent action. In particular, we focus on the visual function of areas of extrastriate cortex along both the ventral, temporal stream and in the dorsal, parietal stream. In this talk I will explore the question of how neurons in these regions are both involved in predicting the future, but that the temporal dynamics of this prediction are quite distinct. Ultimately, however, our unified visual system must integrate information across both.

Byron Yu, Ph.D.

Title: Neural Constraints on Learning
Abstract: Learning has been studied at multiple levels, including behavior, cortical maps, individual neurons, and synapses. However, very little is known about how populations of neurons change in concert during learning. Are there network constraints on the types of new neural activity patterns that can be achieved? We studied this question using a brain-computer interface (BCI), which allows us to directly specify which neural co-modulation patterns we would like the subject to show. We identified a simple network principle that can predict which types of new co-modulation patterns the subjects are able to generate in a short time period. This work provides a novel network-level explanation for why learning some tasks may be easier than others.

Joint work with Patrick Sadtler, Kristin Quick, Matthew Golub, Stephen Ryu, Aaron Batista