I spoke to Luan Ismahil, who is the ICT for Life Sciences Forum Convenor about the Singularity Summit just past, and also about how he got the ICT4LifeSciences going.  Perhaps there is a chance of cross promotion and such.

Given all the hooha around Kurzweil’s predictions of being able to simulate the human brain by 2029 (hey fMRI resoltion is doubling every year and nanotech is just around the corner), and PZ Myers scathing criticism of Kurzweil (complexity, complexity, complexity….hey look at how complex this protein folding is…), I think it would be useful to set the record straight about where we are at with neural imaging and brain scanning – hence this presentation should prove very interesting to fill some voids in my understanding of the matter.

Where are we at with fMRI?  What will we do with more detailed models of the nervous system, especially the brain?

Will we find that all our behaviour is determined by the neural collerates of intelligence, or consciousness?

Or will we find a complex pattern from which emerges an even more complex pattern that will take 100′s of years to understand?

A grand goal in neuroscience research is to understand how the interplay of structural, chemical and electrical signals in nervous tissue gives rise to behavior. We are rapidly approaching this horizon as neuroscientists make use of an increasingly powerful arsenal for obtaining data, from the level of molecules to nervous systems, and engage in the arduous and challenging process of adapting and assembling neuroscience data at all scales of resolution and across disciplines into computerized databases. The need for a scalable and available knowledge environment for the neurosciences has captured the attention of many who now work at the hybrid interface of neuroscience and information sciences – sometimes called “neuroinformatics”. This talk will highlight some of the tools and data available today, illustrating what tomorrow’s neuroscientists might expect from neuroinformatics in an era in which scientific discoveries will hinge increasingly on the development and use of telecommunications and information technology.

Prof Mark H. Ellisman has also previously spoke at Monash in 2008.

“A grand goal in neuroscience research is to understand how the interplay of structural, chemical and electrical signals in nervous tissue gives rise to behavior. We are rapidly approaching this horizon as neuroscientists make use of an increasingly powerful arsenal of instruments and tools for obtaining data, from the level of molecules to nervous systems, and engage in the arduous and challenging process of adapting and assembling neuroscience data at all scales of resolution and across disciplines into computerized databases. A consolidated strategy for integrating neuroscience data has been to provide a multi-scale structural or spatial scaffold on which existing and accruing elements of neuroscience knowledge can be located and relationships explored from any network-linked computer. Similarly, efforts to integrate multi-scale data from different methods using a common spatial framework are hampered by incomplete descriptions of the microanatomy of nervous systems. While some spatial and temporal scales are well studied and described, there are many domains where current methods have provided only sparse descriptions. Multi-scale imaging activities currently providing data to populate this brain information scaffold will be highlighted, with particular reference to those emerging with capabilities to facilitate mapping at a resolution of one nm to 10′s of µm – a dimensional range that encompasses macromolecular complexes, organelles, and multi-component structures such as synapses and cellular interactions in the context of the complex organization of the brain. This effort also provides multi-scale structural frameworks for construction of models being used to test hypotheses not amenable to direct experimental analysis using software tools that allow for computational simulation of microphysiological properties of nervous systems.”

  • Prof. Mark H. Ellisman* is Director of National Centre for Microscopy and Imaging Research (NCMIR) which he founded in 1988 to achieve greater understanding of the structure and function of the nervous system by developing 3D light and electron microscopy methods. Dr. Ellisman, is also a founding fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering, and has received numerous awards including the Jacob Javits Neuroscience Investigatory Award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH http://www.nih.gov/) and the Creativity Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF http://www.nsf.gov/). Since 1996, he has been serving as the founding director of the UCSD Center for Research in Biological Systems (CRBS http://crbs.ucsd.edu). Dr. Ellisman is a professor of neurosciences and bioengineering (UCSD since 1977), an interdisciplinary coordinator for the National Partnership for Advanced Computing Infrastructure (NPACI) and leads NPACI’s Neuroscience thrust. He is also on the National Advisory Council of the NIH National Center for Research Resources (NCRR) and the Physics Division Review Committee of the Department of Energy, Los Alamos National Laboratory.
  • Bio is here
  • Abstract of talk ‘Brain Research in a Digital Age’ is here

Thursday, 14 October 2010, 6:00 PM — 7:00 PM
Theatre GM15 – Mezzanine Level – Law Building
185 Pelham Street ( map )
Carlton, Victoria
3053
Australia

Hope to see you all there.

If i get the chance, some questions I will be asking are:

  • (Thanks Ben Goertzel) – what does he see as the most promising avenue for getting brain images with high resolution in both space and time, during the next 5-10 years?
  • fMRI resolution is at about 1 cubic mm, if you get several images and correlate them further resolution could probably be extrapolated, though the brain is continually moving, pulsating because of blood flow etc. How do you compensate for this?
  • What will the next generation of Brain Computer Interfaces be like, and what will it use as input? Also, will BCI stimulate the brain? What are your ideas of what and how it will do this?
 

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