Brendan Bicknell, Ph.D.University College London
Brendan Bicknell is a postdoctoral fellow at University College London. He uses theoretical approaches combined with large-scale simulations to understand how the low-level biophysical properties of cells give rise to higher-level function. Previously he studied mathematics as an undergraduate at the University of Queensland, Australia, and completed a Ph.D. in computational neuroscience with Geoff Goodhill at the Queensland Brain Institute. He can often be found in the company of experimentalists, whose perspectives from the coalface have been highly influential.
Principal Investigator: Michael Häusser
Fellow: Dilay Ercelik
Project: One of the most striking features of the brain is the rich diversity of cell morphologies. Elaborately branched axons and dendrites emanate from cell bodies, defining the characteristic shapes of neurons and rules of connection, and fundamentally influencing the way signals are transmitted and received. However, predominant theories of neural computation tend to be based on simplifying ‘spherical cow’ assumptions that ignore these details. In this project, the SURF Fellow will explore the implications of cell morphology for computation at the single-neuron and circuit level. They will use dynamical systems theory and simulations to study the properties of realistic models of neurons and use these insights to develop spiking network models that more accurately reflect what we know of the underlying biology. This project is ideally suited to a student with a quantitative background who is curious to uncover how the basic cellular hardware of the brain supports its function.