Functional logic of neural circuits: diamonds in the rough

  • Haspel, Gal (PI)
  • Lazar, Aurel A.A. (CoPI)
  • Izquierdo, Eduardo E.J. (CoPI)
  • Naumann, Eva E.A. (CoPI)

Project: Research project

Project Details


One of the pressing challenges to understand large and complex nervous systems is to map how and for what purpose neurons communicate at the lowest level. One-way researchers have made great progress is by recording enormous amounts of information about the neuronal connections, circuits, neural activity, behavior and even genomic structure of smaller nervous systems of some model systems, such as the nematode, fruit fly, or zebrafish. However, all this detailed information has not yet led to satisfying and deeper insight into important questions relevant to understanding the human brain. For example, how do circuits of neurons process, encode, store, and retrieve information? To address such questions, it is important to develop conceptual and theoretical frameworks of the functional logic of brain circuits that go beyond the current computational models. This award will bring together neuroscience pioneers from different fields, including experimental, computational, and theoretical disciplines to define the most important topics and questions to address this challenge.

The organizers will produce and lead a workshop on the Functional Logic of Neural Circuits. The workshop will take place in two phases, a virtual meeting followed by an in-person meeting four months later, in Puerto Rico. In the first phase, the participants will bring up questions and map out the gap among the diverse fields intersecting these disciplines. They will collect ideas from diverse researchers, gauge interest, and solicit feedback and collective input from forward thinkers in these areas to lay ground for the second phase. In a second phase, participants will identify concrete research directions and opportunities that, if pursued, can initiate new conceptual developments that will lead to new breakthroughs in our understanding of the functional logic of neural circuits. The specific topic of the workshop, namely the functional logic of neural circuits offers an opportunity to impact not just our understanding of nervous systems, large or small, but also inform the development of artificial systems with the robustness and flexibility of living organisms. Finally, this workshop aims to not only bring together scientists to identify difficult problems at interdisciplinary interfaces, but to also train a young and diverse generation of diverse scientists to collaborate at the frontiers of neuroscience.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Effective start/end date5/15/214/30/22


  • National Science Foundation: $49,500.00


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