Columbia University in the City of New York




How the Brain Makes New Memories While Preserving the Old

From the lab of Stefano Fusi, PhD, Columbia's Zuckerman Institute

Connected tubs of liquid, representing the components of brain-cell connections that make memories (Credit: Fusi Lab/Columbia's Zuckerman Institute).

Your brain processes an astounding amount of information at each moment.

No computer on the market can rival its ability to compute. But understanding this extraordinary brainpower may require concepts borrowed from computer science, as well as math, engineering and physics.

The computational neuroscientists at Columbia’s Zuckerman Institute study the math that makes the brain tick. How are the billions of neurons that make up the brain similar to the microprocessors that make up a computer — and how are they different? What is the computational power of our brain? How does it allow the brain to interpret the outside world and use the information it receives to send messages to the body?

To answer these questions and more, our researchers create models that reveal hidden patterns in brain activity. We develop new tools that analyze enormous amounts of data, and new ways of visualizing that analysis. Our computational work touches on and supports every topic studied at the Institute, from decision making to disease. It could inspire new advances in fields like economics, and even lead to new kinds of computers inspired by the elegant workings of the brain.

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