From shark brains to human cerebellum – an evolutionary perspective on pattern formation in the cerebellar granule cell layer Event as iCalendar

05 March 2018

1 - 2pm

Venue: Mac 1

Location: 5 Symonds Street, Auckland Central

Host: SBS

Contact info: Dr Anna Santure

Contact email: a.santure@auckland.ac.nz

Professor John Montgomery, Institute of Marine Science and School of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science, University of Auckland
Professor John Montgomery, Institute of Marine Science and School of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science, University of Auckland


Speaker
: Professor John Montgomery, Institute of Marine Science and School of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science, University of Auckland

In the human cerebellum the granule cell layer has 69 billion neurons; that is 80% of the neurons in the brain. What do they do? Why so many? And how could such a multiplicity of neurons self-organise to produce and maintain their required functionality?

Understanding of the ‘proto’-cerebellum found in shark brains, and comparable work on weakly electric fish, provides a neuroethology perspective from which to address these questions.

This perspective supports the view that the cerebellum is defined by its computational ability to act as an adaptive filter. In essence, it is a vast array of adaptive filter elements that contribute to a very wide range of behaviours. The granule cells provide the rich diversity of input signals to the adaptive filter (something that engineers call basis-functions). The better the basis-function richness, the more powerful the adaptive filter; hence the requirement for a multiplicity of granule cells. The question of how the granule cell layer could self-organise is a work in progress; however, a variant of the winner-takes-all mechanism used in various biological and artificial networks might be at work.

For more information, please contact Dr Anna Santure