Tyler Benster

Stanford University
A portrait photo of Tyler Benster.

Tyler Benster received his Sc.B. from Brown University in applied mathematics-economics and is now a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in the neurosciences program at Stanford University, co-advised by Shaul Druckmann and Karl Deisseroth. He created a new transgenic zebrafish that co-expresses a green calcium indicator and a red channelrhodopsin across the entire brain. Tyler uses two-photon microscopy and holographic optogenetic stimulation for brain-wide observation and control of neural activity with cellular resolution. Tyler collected preliminary data to begin answering one of the above questions. Because researchers have the capability to close the loop between theory and experiments, work during the first half of the SURF program may inform the collection of a new dataset for analysis in the second half of the fellowship. Tyler and Shaul Druckmann are excited to collaborate with the fellow and are committed to providing both the mentorship and experimental data to support an exciting scientific experience.

Principal Investigator: Shaul Druckmann

Fellow: Renzo Huarcaya

Project: Calcium imaging and optogenetics enable measuring the projective field of a neuron: the set of neurons that are activated by stimulating a neuron. The principles of how projective fields interact is central to both systems and computational neuroscience. This project will provide a personalized research experience for a motivated undergraduate fellow, who will choose between one of three questions:

1) How do projective fields compose? The researchers will compare how well different artificial neural networks explain an experimental dataset where we vary the number of neurons stimulated concurrently.
2) Are correlations predictive of projective fields? They will perform correlation analysis to predict connectivity between neurons, and subsequently compare this prediction to the experimentally measured projective field.
3) How do projective fields vary with the magnitude of neural response? They will control the magnitude of neural response and compare how the projective field varies.

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