Cosyne 2010 Workshops

March 1-2, 2010

Snow Bird, Utah


Linearity and its discontents -- Is there life in a post-STRF world?


Stephen David (Maryland)

Yale Cohen (Penn)

Jonathan Fritz (Maryland)


As a linear model, the spectro-temporal receptive field (STRF) has enjoyed some success in characterizing neural responses in early sensory cortical areas. At higher levels of the sensory processing hierarchy, the ability of the STRF to characterize neural response properties diminishes rapidly. However, despite its limitations and the numerous proposed extensions and alternatives to the STRF, no single approach has managed to replace it as the canonical model in the field of sensory neuroscience.

Attempts to improve the ability of the STRF to characterize the responses of neurons in both early and late sensory-processing areas fall into several different categories: (1) new basis sets to describe sensory inputs, (2) new nonlinearities to explicitly capture the transformations applied to these inputs, and (3) new cost functions to incorporate ideas from machine learning theory or experimentally-informed priors. This workshop will focus on three central questions. First, what is the enduring value of the STRF, and why is it still so prevalent? Second, how successful have second-generation models been at improving our understanding of sensory processing? Finally, and perhaps most importantly, are there fundamentally different alternatives that offer better ways to characterize sensory responses in the cortex?

In this workshop, we will bring together theoreticians and experimentalists from different sensory systems to discuss these central questions and explore how our collective experience can be usefully applied to future models of sensory processing.


Morning Session

8:00-8:20 Introduction & overview
8:20-8:45 Nima Mesgarani, University of Maryland - Can you really improve on linear STRFs?
8:55-9:20 Hiroki Asari, Harvard University - Long-lasting context dependence constrains neural encoding models in rodent auditory cortex
9:30-9:45 Break
9:45-10:10 Frederic Theunissen, University of California, Berkeley - Non-linearities and their function in the avian auditory system
10:20-11:45 Nicole Rust, University of Pennsylvania - Life beyond the STRF: How LN population-based approaches make our problems tractable and tell us what we ultimately want to know

Afternoon Session

4:30-4:55 Shiva Sinha, Indiana University - Motion estimation based on natural visual stream statistics
5:05-5:30 Tatyana Sharpee, Salk Institute - Building nonlinear receptive field models using natural stimuli
5:40-6:05 Thomas Naselaris, University of California, Berkeley - Using linearizing feature models to study higher-level visual representations
6:10-6:20 Break
6:20-6:45 Dan Butts, University of Maryland - Excitation, inhibition, and multiple 'receptive field' elements in sensory processing
6:55-7:20 Maneesh Sahani, University College London - Context reweighting models reveal systematic supra-linear frequency integration outside the STRF of auditory cortical cells

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