I’m an assistant professor in the Department of Cognitive Science, the Neurosciences Graduate Program, and the Halicioglu Data Science Institute at UC San Diego. My research centers around how the 86 billion or so neurons in our brains can possibly “talk” to each other given how messy and noisy the biological brain is. Specifically I focus on the role that neural oscillations may play in coordinating information transfer in the brain. To do this my program combines large-scale data mining and machine learning techniques with hypothesis-driven experimental research. I’m an open science and honest science advocate, and I’m kind of known as the “zombie brain” guy, along with friend and fellow neuroscientist Timothy Verstynen. We even published a book on this: Do Zombies Dream of Undead Sheep? I’m active online, mainly on twitter as @bradleyvoytek and blogging here.
After completing my undergraduate degree and assisting research in cognitive and social neuroscience at UC Santa Barbara, I came to this lab to learn more about how we study the brain. How do computational methods augment brain science research? How do we optimize the recording and imaging technologies currently at our disposal? How do we, as neuroscientists, best study something as elusive as the human brain?
Before I can tackle these challenges in future graduate study and research, I need to expand my skillset and master current techniques in data collection and analysis. As lab manager, I’m here to learn, to contribute to running projects, and to keep everything running smoothly.
In general, I’m interested in extracting information about brain activity from electrophysiological signals. While Fourier-based analyses have proven fruitful in the past in studying brain rhythms, I’m working to develop methods which can quantify the nonsinusoidal features of neural oscillations. I hope that this analysis will improve our understanding of how brain rhythms and how they contribute to neural computation.
If you’re interested in using these tools, check out this tutorial in our toolbox, neurodsp and our review paper on the importance of waveform shape. Visit my website for more information about my work and other data science-related projects.
Basically, I would like to know how the brain works. In particular, how does it go about organizing all it’s seemingly chaotic activity in order to systematically allow us to do everything that we do?
I mainly work on the hypothesis that neural oscillations – rhythmic neural activity – may serve as an organizing principle for neural computation. I investigate this using a mixture of running new experiments with human subjects while we record their brain activity, and also by analysing data from open-access databases. In practice, this means I spend most of my time on the computer, working on code to try and figure out what is going on in the data.
You can find out more about my research here.
There are tens of billions of distinct cells in the human brain, but are there just as many ways in which these cells can behave? My research looks at a small number of conserved neural population dynamics – e.g., synchronous waves, neural oscillations, asynchronous “noise”. How do groups of neurons organize themselves in these ways, how are these dynamics different, and what roles do these population dynamics play in cognition and behavior? I also work on inferring cellular dynamic and structure from mesoscale brain signals, like local field potential and electrocorticography (see here).
My work includes a mixture of in-vitro and in-silico modeling, in addition to a heavy dose of signal processing and other computational methods applied on (donated) animal electrophysiological data. Sometimes I rant about stuff here.
My research looks at the neural processes that support attention and working memory. I examine how oscillations help organize information transfer between brain regions and how disruptions in this process affect cognitive performance. I also have particular interests in how oscillations change during healthy aging and how the oscillatory response to sensory inputs might be affected by pre-stimulus background activity.
I also like brains.
My interests are at the intersection of neural representation, neural computation, and information processing and how those processes overlap. What mechanisms do neural systems exploit to simultaneously gate, encode, and compute upon information? To what extent do neural rhythms support (or fail to support) and organize neural processing in health and disease? To explore these questions, I leverage cortical organoids: ex vivo, 3D, genetically re-engineered neuronal ensembles that recapitulate much of early neural development. In particular, I use this model to interrogate how different genetic diseases influence neural development at the cellular, electrophysiological, and computational levels.
Affiliated Members & Visiting Students
Gentner Lab, UCSD
Computer Science, UCSD
Enriquez-Geppert Lab, University of Groningen
Sitan (Stan) Liu
Roemer van der Meij
Formerly: Post-Doctoral Researcher
Formerly: Undergrad Research Assistant
Formerly: Undergrad Research Assistant
Formerly: Summer Research Student (SDSU)
Oscar the Oscillating Orca