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January 2020: Joining eLife as a reviewing editor

I am joining the journal eLife as a Reviewing Editor. Looking forward in handling submissions for this progressive open-access Science journal.

November 2019: Paper accepted in Cell Reports

Bos, J.,*, Vinck, M.*, Marchesi, P., Keestra, A., Mourik-Donga van, L., Jackson, J., Verschure, P., Pennartz, C.
Multiplexing of self and other information in hippocampal ensembles.
*Equally contributing first authors.
Cell reports.

In this paper we examine how biological agents represent other agents. We recorded from an area in the brain (CA1) in which neurons represent the spatial position of an agent (where am I) and also encode time (when are things happening). In humans, this region of the brain is necessary for the formation of episodic memories. Representation of other agents is one of the most crucial tasks for biological organisms, because they generally carry most of the positive or negative value (e.g. predators, prey, or co-specifics). In this study we trained rats to report the location of a moving robot (which was quite salient due to lights and noise) on a maze that the rat was familiar with himself. We then decoded neural activity and asked if it represented the precise location of the robot. It turned out that neurons in CA1 do not represent the precise location of this moving robot. Rather there are neurons that encode whether the robot was on the left or right of the maze, which was the behaviorally relevant variable. Thus, it does not seem to be the case that CA1 of the hippocampus contains precise information about the spatial position of other agents, but it rather seems to be encoding behaviorally relevant aspects of this other agent.

October 2019: New preprint

Spyropoulos, G., Dowdall, J., Scholvinck, M., Bosman, C., Lima, B., Peter, A., Onorato, I., Klon-Lipok, J., Roese, R., Neuenschwander, S., Singer, W., Vinck*, M, Fries*, P.
Gamma-cycle duration predicts instantaneous amplitude, spike rate and synchrony in macaque V1.
*Equally contributing last authors.

Just like radio signals, brain signals can be modulated in frequency and amplitude to convey information. This paper (which I co-supervised together with Pascal Fries) shows how the instantaneous amplitude and frequency of brain signals are related to each other and how they modulate the synchrony and frequency of nerve impulses. The paper also has an extensive methodological part where we show problems in the estimation of instantaneous frequency and amplitude independent of each other, which can lead to spurious correlations, and propose solutions to this problem. What was also surprising is that the power spectral density of an oscillatory brain signal is best explained by how often a certain frequency occurs (e.g. 50 vs. 40 Hz), not by how large the amplitude is when that frequency occurs (e.g. 50 Hz being larger than 40 Hz).

September 2019: Workshop Computational Neuroscience Bernstein in Berlin

Together with my collaborator Francesco Battaglia, we organized a workshop on dimensionality reduction and unsupervised detection of spiking sequences at the BCCN. A nice mixture of talks from D. Durstewitz (recurrent dynamics, latent variables), Adrien Peyrache (topological methods, showing ring manifolds for head-direction cells), Joao Semedo (finding the most predictive components in one brain signal explaining another brain signal), Benjamin Dann (are the most informative neurons about movement also the most connected to other areas? No), Simona Cocca (Ising Models with latent variables to understand the way in which the brain uses maps for different environments) and me (how to measure dissimilarity between spike train patterns, and how do you use that to cluster and study the geometry of state space).

September 2019: Two new PhD students joined the lab

Jinke Liu and Jahan Esfandiarii have joined the lab on a BMF computational life sciences grant. Welcome!

September 2019: Book Chapter at MIT press based on Ernst Struengmann Forum discussions (Cortex 3.0)

Harris, K. D., J. M. Groh, J. DiCarlo, P. Fries, M. Kaschube, G. Laurent, J. MacLean, D. McCormick, G. Pipa, J. Reynolds, A. Schwartz, T. Sejnowski, W. Singer, M. Vinck, 2019. Functional Properties of Circuits, Cellular Populations, and Areas. In: The Neocortex, ed. W. Singer, T. J. Sejnowski and P. Rakic, pp. 223-265. Strüngmann Forum Reports, vol. 27, J. Lupp, series editor. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

September 2019: Irene's paper accepted into Neuron

Our preprint now got accepted into Neuron! Congrats to Irene and the others involved.

Onorato, I., Neuenschwander, S., Hoy, J., Lima, B., Rocha, K., Broggini, A.C., Uran, C., Spyropoulos, G., Womelsdorf, T., Fries, P., Niell, C., Singer, W., Vinck, M.
A distinct class of bursting neurons with strong gamma synchronization and stimulus selectivity in monkey V1.

September 2019: ERC starting grant

Grateful to have received a 5-year ERC starting grant (1.75 million euros) to conduct research on predictive processing in biological and artificial neural networks. See this news item on the ESI website.

We will be hiring new PhDs and postdocs in the coming 6 months.

September 2019

Just came back from a week visit to the Instituto de Cerebro in Natal (Brain institute in Natal). A very special place to do science, in one of the most beautiful locations in the world. Excited to continue and enhance collaboration with Sergio Neuenschwander. Also visited Gustavo Rohenkohl at USP in Sao Paolo, who is setting up a great laboratory for human psychophysics and EEG.

March 2019: New preprint

Onorato, I., Neuenschwander, S., Hoy, J., Lima, B., Rocha, K., Broggini, A.C., Uran, C., Spyropoulos, G., Womelsdorf, T., Fries, P., Niell, C., Singer, W., Vinck, M.
A distinct class of bursting neurons with strong gamma synchronization and stimulus selectivity in monkey V1.

Irene is doing her PhD studies in our lab.

March 2019: Talks in Tuebingen

I'll be giving a talk at the MPI for Biological Cybernetics in Tuebingen the 20th of March (14:00), and on the German-Japanese symposium on Neuroscience in Tuebingen 21-22st of March (22: afternoon).

January, 2019

Vinck, M., Perrenoud, Q. Layers of rhythms - from cortical anatomy to dynamics. 2019.

Preview/Discussion on the Senzai et al. (2019) paper in Neuron.


January 2019: Paper accepted in eLife (open access)

Peter, A.*, Uran, C*, Klon-Lipok, J, Roese, R., van Stijn, S., Barnes, W., Dowdall, J, Singer, W, Fries, P, Vinck, M. Surface color and predictability determine contextual modulation of V1 firing and gamma oscillations. 2019. eLife

Looking for PhD and master students

We are looking for multiple Phd students to work on big data projects on developing new algorithms and software for high-dimensional neural datasets. Also looking for master students.

See Jobs

October 2018, Paper accepted in eLife (open access)

Miri, M.*, Vinck, M.*, Pant, R., Cardin, J. Altered hippocampal interneuron activity precedes ictal onset. 2018. eLife. *equally contributing authors.

We used optogenetics and electrophysiology to record from specific GABAergic interneurons in the hippocampus before and during epileptic seizures.The hippocampus is the main focus where seizures originate, and inhibition is thought to play a critical role in the generation of epileptic seizures. The reason for this is that inhibition plays a critical role in stabilizing network dynamics and balancing recurrent excitatory activity. We used optogenetics to identify specific identified GABAergic interneurons, and tracked their activity before and during seizures. Surprisingly, we found a very strong increase in the firing of a specific interneuron (PV interneuron) right before the seizure. In addition, we found that their activity becomes decoupled from the excitatory cell activity. These PV interneurons are thought to play a critical role in network stabilization. These data suggest that an increase in their activity together with decoupling from excitatory neurons could cause epileptic seizures.

September 2018

My old colleague Jeroen Bos got his PhD at the University of Amsterdam. Congratulations, Jeroen! It was great fun working together with you. Any lab will be lucky to have Jeroen for postdoc. Jeroen's thesis (some parts under embargo) can be found at the UvA website. Including some nice unpublished work we did together on how the brain represents other agents.

25-28 September 2018, Berlin

We will be at Bernstein Computational Neuroscience Meeting in Berlin. Cem is presenting.

29-31st August 2018:

We had a great "ESI-Sync 2018" meeting. Thanks Miriam, Ana, Maestro Andre and Nina.

August 2018: Paper in Current Opinion Neurobiology

Batista-Brito*, R, Zagha*, E, Ratliff, J., Vinck, M*. Modulation of cortical circuits by top-down processing and arousal state in health and disease. Current Opinion in Neurobiology.

Paper with some good old friends from the Yale times. Interneuron mechanisms of top-down attention and state modulation and how it might be contribute to psychiatric diseases like schizophrenia.

July 2018: Paper accepted in Plos Computational Biology (open access)

Grossberger, L., Battaglia, F., Vinck, M. Unsupervised clustering of temporal patterns in high-dimensional neuronal ensembles using a novel dissimilarity measure. PLOS Computational Biology.

Lukas was a Master student and now works at Bosch Machine Learning group. This work resulted from a long-term collaboration with Francesco.

June 2018: Paper accepted in Nature Neuroscience

Pesaran, B. Vinck, M., Einevoll, G., Sirota, A., Fries, P., Siegel, M., Truccolo, W., Schroeder, C., Srinivasan, R. 2018. Investigating large-scale brain dynamics using field potential recordings: Analysis and interpretation. Nature Neuroscience

Useful piece for advanced graduate students who wants to learn more about interpreting and analyzing brain data. Thanks to Bijan for organizing this.