Computational and Systems Neuroscience

Computational NeuroscienceThe extraordinary complexity of the brain makes it exceedingly difficult to study how this organ integrates one hundred billion neurons and up to 5 quadrillion connections in parallel fashion.  Most researchers narrow their search to a specific brain region or limited set of genes or proteins in order to simplify the research question and obtain straightforward answers.  In order to fully understand brain function, cognition and consciousness, however, it will be necessary to understand how the entire brain is integrated simultaneously.  An approach to this is computational and systems neuroscience which takes a mathematical route to determine how the brain’s networks combine to create a system that inspires and allows a human to walk on the moon, paint the Mona Lisa or develop a theory of relativity.

In Aberdeen several groups tackle the puzzle of how the brain operates as a unit using mathematical approaches (computation neuroscience) and studying how theoretical models can be used to predict how large number of neurons (including their protein constituents and gene networks) interact to perform tasks (systems neuroscience).  At the University of Aberdeen there is a strong mathematical modelling team working in neuroscience which builds upon an extensive interdisciplinary programme in systems biology and involves strong participation from individuals and research groups from the College of Physical Sciences and the College of Life Sciences and Medicine.