Swartz Center for Computational Neuroscience Dedicated at UCSD

Friday November 16, 2001 5:42 pm Eastern Time

OLD FIELD, N.Y.--(BW HealthWire)--Nov. 16, 2001--The University of California, San Diego (UCSD) today dedicated the new Swartz Center for Computational Neuroscience (sccn.ucsd.edu), in recognition of private funding provided by the Swartz Foundation of Old Field, New York. The Swartz Center will integrate theoretical research on brain systems with experimental work on brain imaging at the Institute for Neural Computation at UCSD (directed by Terrence Sejnowski) and at the Sloan/Swartz Center for Theoretical Neurobiology at the Salk Institute (directed by Thomas Albright). A goal of the Swartz Center is to better understand human behavior by exploring links between the microscopic (single neuron) and macroscopic levels of brain dynamics.

The Center will include a team of 16 faculty, staff and students with state-of-the-art equipment for measuring electrical activity from human brains (high-density 256 channel EEG) and a cluster of graphics workstations capable of displaying dynamic brain data recorded at the Swartz Center and at the new UCSD/Salk Institute Functional Magnetic Resonance Brain Imaging Center. These high-performance systems will be used to test large-scale models of brain activity.

Scott Makeig, a research scientist at UCSD and Senior Staff scientist at Salk Institute, will direct the Swartz Center. ``New theoretical approaches to brain systems and our ability to use non-invasive brain imaging on humans,'' said Dr. Makeig, ``have opened an unprecedented scientific opportunity to explore the macroscopic brain dynamics underlying our cognitive abilities.'' The Swartz Center will use concurrent recording of electromagnetic and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data at the UCSD/Salk Functional Magnetic Resonance Brain Imaging Center. ``By combining information from different techniques'' said Swartz Center Associate Director Tzyy-Ping Jung, ``we will be able to probe the brain at high spatial and temporal resolution.'' The brain data will be analyzed with advanced computational methods such as Independent Component Analysis (ICA), developed by members of the Institute for Neural Computation at UCSD.

Terrence Sejnowski, Professor of Biology at UCSD and an Investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, directs the Computational Neurobiology Laboratory at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and will coordinate the research teams at UCSD and Salk. ``We are at the threshold of a new era in the study of the human brain and behavior and the Swartz Center will pioneer a multilevel research program aimed at better understanding who we are,'' said Dr. Sejnowski, ``Advances in brain research will also have far reaching consequences for future information technologies.''

Jerome Swartz is co-Founder and Chairman of Symbol Technologies, the Holtsville N.Y.-based global leader in barcode-based mobile data transaction systems. Under his leadership, Symbol was awarded the National Medal of Technology in year 2000. Dr. Swartz is credited with more than 150 U.S. patents. He is an IEEE Fellow, a member of the National Academy of Engineering, and a recipient of the 1998 IEEE Ernst Weber Leadership Award and the 2001 New York Academy of Sciences Eureka Award. Dr. Swartz is a board member at Stony Brook University and New York's Polytechnic University. In his role as Symbol's chief scientist, he has guided the Company's research in automatic identification/pattern recognition laser systems (i.e.,``eyes for the computer'').

Commenting on the dedication, Dr. Swartz said, ``I've known and worked with Terry and Scott for a number of years, and I'm extremely pleased to formalize our collaboration and that of UCSD and Salk through the new Swartz Center. Our goal is to foster exchange among theoretical and experimental neuroscientists to produce novel insights and in-depth analysis along new and robust paths for understanding the brain -- from molecular and cellular events, on to the level of brain systems and behavior, reaching out to the phenomenon of the conscious mind.''

The Swartz Foundation (www.theswartzfoundation.org) was established by Dr. Swartz in 1994 to explore the application of mathematical physics and computer engineering principles to neuroscience, as a path to better understanding the brain/mind relationship. The Foundation actively supports a number of initiatives in addition to the new Swartz Center at UCSD. Five Sloan/Swartz centers for Theoretical Neurobiology (at Cal Tech, U.C. San Francisco, Brandeis, NYU, and Salk Institute) form a strong nucleus for the advancement of integrative neurobiology (i.e., theory, systems analysis and experiment). The Swartz Foundation also sponsors targeted research projects that range from experimental investigations of brain circuitry to computational modeling of large neuronal systems, to explorations of consciousness using physical and mathematical principles. The Swartz Foundation also sponsors scientific conferences at the Banbury Center of CSHL, and a series of annual Brain/Mind Lectures at Stony Brook University.

The Institute for Neural Computation (INC: http://inc.ucsd.edu/) is an organized research unit of the University of California, San Diego with 44 members representing 14 research disciplines, devoted to the research and development of a new generation of massively parallel computers through research spanning the areas of neuroscience, visual science, cognitive science, artificial intelligence, mathematics, economics and social science, and computer engineering. Researchers are addressing the twin scientific and engineering challenges of understanding how humans function at the neural and cognitive levels and solving major technological problems related to neural network implementations.