Lab Descriptions

Research Labs

  1. Computational Neuroscience Research Group (CNRG)
  2. Spafford Neurobiology Research Laboratory
  3. Computational Epistemology Lab (CEL)
  4. Anderson Group
  5. Tripp Lab
  6. Campbell Group
  7. Danckert Attention and Action Group (DAAG)
  8. Marriott Lab
  9. Laboratory for Research in Reasoning & Decision Making
  10. Ingalls Group

Computational Neuroscience Research Group (CNRG)

Lab Head: Dr. Chris Eliasmith

Webpage: Computational Neuroscience Research Group

Research Description: The Computational Neuroscience Research Group (CNRG) is dedicated to developing and using a unified mathematical framework for modeling large-scale neurobiological systems. We are currently applying this framework to specific projects in sensory processing, motor control, and cognitive function. Our on-going work encompasses purely theoretical issues, specific biologically realistic models (e.g., of Parkinson's Disease, hemineglect, human linguistic inference, rodent navigation, among others), and practical applications (e.g., automatic text classification, clustering, and data mining). These modeling efforts are carried out in collaboration with various experimental groups who use techniques that span the range from single cell physiology to functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

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Spafford Neurobiology Research Laboratory

Lab Head: Dr. David Spafford

Webpage: Spafford Neurobiology Research Laboratory

Research Description: In the Spafford laboratory, we principally study voltage-gated calcium channels. Calcium channels participate in brain functions, such as synaptic transmission, neuronal plasticity, patterned nerve activity underlying rhythmic behaviours, outgrowth of neurons and synapse formation. Lab trainees are exposed to multidisciplinary research that spans molecular physiology and biophysics, to cell and integrative physiology underlying animal behaviour. Students have access to techniques in electrophysiology as well as in molecular and cell biology, protein biochemistry, fluorescence microscopy and tissue culture.

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Computational Epistemology Lab (CEL)

Lab Head: Dr. Paul Thagard

Webpage: Computational Epistemology Lab

Research Description: Paul Thagard works with students from several different departments to develop computational models of human reasoning, including scientific, legal, and moral thinking. Recent work models how brains perform decision making, scientific discovery, and other emotional inferences. He is also concerned with the philosophical implications of advances in neuroscience and is currently working on topics such as emotional consciousness, the implications of mirror neurons for the problem of other minds, conscience and moral intuition, the mind-brain identity theory, and the nature of mental illness.

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Anderson Group

Lab head: Dr. Britt Anderson

Webpage: Anderson Group

Research Description: Precise computational models make cognitive theories concrete and yield specific experimental predictions. By combining psychophysical studies of normal and brain damaged human subjects with the computational tools of theoretical neuroscience, we study the functional architecture of, and basis for, higher level cognitive capacities such as spatial attention and general cognitive ability.

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Tripp Lab

Lab head: Dr. Bryan Tripp

Webpage: Bryan Tripp Lab

Research Description: The Tripp lab researches visual and motor systems. Vision and motor control are highly accessible to both detailed experimentation and detailed modelling. From a practical perspective, biological vision and motor systems vastly outperform artificial systems in many tasks, so that an improved understanding of these systems should lead to substantial technological advances. The central goal of the lab is to develop increasingly realistic computer/robotic models of the dorsal visual pathways and the networks that control eye and limb motion.

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Campbell Group

Group Head: Dr. Sue Ann Campbell

Webpage: Campbell Group

Research Description: The research of this group focuses on understanding how rhythms are generated in the brain. We approach this problem by formulating mathematical models for networks of neurons and studying their properties using dynamical systems theory, numerical simulation and other computational tools. Current work centres on investigating how certain model properties (coupling, oscillation characteristics, presence of conduction and synaptic time delays, connectivity of the network) affect the ability of the network to producing synchronized rhythms.

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Danckert Attention and Action Group (DAAG)

Lab Head: Dr. James Danckert

Webpage: Danckert Attention and Action Group

Research Description: The DAAG examines the role of parietal cortex in the control of visually guided actions, attention and consciousness. One pivotal aspect of the group's research involves exploring the consequences of injury to the right parietal cortex which typically leads to a disorder known as unilateral neglect. Neglect patients behave as if one half of their world has simply ceased to exist. These patients display unique impairments in visuomotor control, deployment of attention and conscious representation of the external world. Recently, we have made use of computational models to disentangle the contributions of each of these impairments to the disorder. In addition, we are interested in using computational models to understand how the brain perceives the passage of time - a skill that is involved in all aspects of condition and control.

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Marriott Lab

Lab Head: Dr. Paul Marriott

Webpage: Marriott Lab

Research Description: I am interested in statistical modelling of spike train data from neuron firing experiments. In these problems we are typically working with very large amounts of point process data where the spike train represents the firing times of neurons. Issues which we are examining are possible state space models and the important question of modelling dependence between large numbers of neurons.

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Laboratory for Research in Reasoning and Decision Making

Lab Head: Dr. Jonathan Fugelsang

Webpage: Laboratory for Research in Reasoning and Decision Making

Research Description: The Laboratory for Research in Reasoning & Decision Making addresses several topics in cognitive psychology and
cognitive neuroscience, though a primary focus in higher level cognition. Recently, the lab has predominantly focused on how we integrate
multiple sources of information when making complex decisions. These decisions may involve analogical, causal, deductive, or inductive reasoning
processes. To understand the mechanisms underlying these processes, the lab employs both behavioural and functional brain imaging methodologies.

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Ingalls Group

Group Head: Dr. Brian Ingalls

Webpage: Ingalls Group

Research Description: Our group uses tools and methods from control theory to reverse-engineer cellular and intracellular behaviour. This work involves mathematical analysis of dynamic models of biochemical networks. Our research is devoted both to the construction of such models and the development of novel methods for their investigation.

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link button to faculty positions available

link button to 11th annual brain day event

Waterloo researchers among top in Canada

Chris Eliasmith writing on a whiteboardChris Eliasmith, Director of the Centre for Theoretical Neuroscience, received the prestigious John C. Polanyi Award  and is also an inaugural member of the Royal Society of Canada's College of New Scholars, Artists, and Scientists.

Nengo Summer School 2017 link button

How to Build a Brain

Chris Eliasmith’s team at the Centre for Theoretical Neuroscience has built Spaun, the world’s largest simulation of a functioning brain. The related book is now available and for the full article Waterloo Stories.

Nengo

This is a collection of coverage of work with Nengo (Neural Engineering Objects) that has appeared in the popular press recently.