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Neuroscience in the Data Science Age

December 8, 2020 @ 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm

The brain is often likened to a symphony, where 86 billion neurons are coordinating in an unfathomably complex electrochemical orchestra. However, our brains are more like a symphony without a conductor: there is no leader orchestrating those 86 billion neurons! Despite this apparent chaos, our brains usually just work (if we’re lucky!). My research lab leverages a data science approach to neuroscience in order to understand how these 86 billion neurons communicate with one another, and to figure out when, why, and how that process breaks down. To do this, we turn many massive, disconnected neuroscience databases into coherent models for examining relationships across scales, and to generate new research directions. Our approach is to combine brain imaging data with genetics, electrical recordings from neurons, and textual data from millions of peer-reviewed neuroscience publications. By putting those data into a common reference frame, we can mine across datasets to find missing links and gaps in our knowledge. This approach allows us to algorithmically generate plausible hypotheses to better understanding human brain function, development, aging, and disease.

Bradley Voytek is an Associate Professor in the Department of Cognitive Science, the Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute, and the Neurosciences Graduate Program at UC San Diego. He is both an Alfred P. Sloan Neuroscience Research Fellow and a Kavli Fellow of the National Academies of Sciences, as well as a founding faculty member of the UC San Diego Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute and the Undergraduate Data Science program, where he serves as Vice-Chair. After his PhD at UC Berkeley he joined Uber as their first data scientist, when it was a 10-person startup, where he helped build their data science strategy and team. His neuroscience research lab combines large-scale data science and machine learning to study how brain regions communicate with one another, and how that communication changes with development, aging, and disease. He is an advocate for promoting science to the public, and speaks extensively with students at all grade levels about the joys of scientific research and discovery. In addition to his academic publications, his outreach work has appeared in outlets ranging from Scientific American and NPR to the San Diego Comic-Con. His most important contribution to science though is his book with fellow neuroscientist Tim Verstynen, “Do Zombies Dream of Undead Sheep?”, by Princeton University Press.
– 4:45 – 5:00 pm — Arrival and socializing
– 5:00 – 6:00 pm — TalkLinks to slides and videos of meetup presentations are available on the SDML GitHub repo
Join our slack channel or leave a comment below if you have any questions about the group or need clarification on anything.



December 8, 2020
5:00 pm - 6:00 pm