Neural Systems Engineering & Vision Science

Neural engineering applies quantitative and experimental engineering principles to understand and model the structure and function of the nervous system, to determine the brain-behavior relationships, and to design devices to interface with brain circuitry. This growing field draws from many disciplines, including computational neuroscience, devise engineering, neurobiology, opto- and electrophysiology, as well as biomaterials, tissue engineering and electronics. Many faculty of the program are currently working on these aspects with the help of a significant number of bioengineering students.

Combined experimental and computational/theoretical approaches are required to understand the operation of the brain and to explain behavior in terms of underlying neuronal mechanisms. The computational and experimental neuroscience in the program utilizes many approaches. On the analytical side these include information-theoretic characterizations of neural coding and representation; nonlinear analysis of neural responses; machine learning and deep learning data analytic tools; mathematical modeling and simulations; and models of sensory and motor systems. On the experimental side these include: application of cutting edge technologies to neuroscience studies such as 2-photon imaging, advanced electrophysiological recordings, optical control over neural circuits as well as the creation of next generation neural interfaces that enable bidirectional (measurement and manipulation) interaction with neurons. These approaches are synergized with a variety of neuroscientific methods in diverse animals systems and humans such as multi-electrode array single-unit physiology, optogenetic measurement and manipulation, EEG/MEG, transcranial magnetic stimulation, and functional MRI.

Using these approaches, our students and faculty have made substantial progress in understanding the organization and function of neural circuits in sensory cortex (vision, audition, somato-sensation, vestibular), the neural mechanisms of motor planning, learning, and memory (e.g., eye movements, visually guided reaching, navigation, and vocalization); and development and plasticity in vision, somato-sensation and audition. A rapidly expanding field is the application of these tools and knowledge to brain-machine interfaces for restoration and augmentation of sensory, motor, and cognitive functions. Other applications in neuroscience abound, all hinge on innovative utilization of engineering, computational and quantitative approaches to neurobiology, exemplifying the interdisciplinary nature of our bioengineering training.

The strong affiliation of our faculty in bioengineering with two of the strongest and best funded neuroscience programs in the country, at UCSF and UCB, provides outstanding opportunities for incoming students to be involved and trained in top notch, cutting-edge research.

Neural Systems Engineering & Vision Science faculty in the Graduate Group:

Martin Banks
Joshua Berke
Jose Carmena
Edward Chang
Maurice Cohen
Yang Dan
Evan Feinberg
Howard Fields
Loren Frank
Robert Full
Jack Gallant
Karunesh Ganguly
Xiao Hu
Donna Hudson
Richard Ivry
Na Ji
Stanley Klein
Richard Kramer
Luke Lee
Pratik Mukherjee
Rikky Muller
Srikantan Nagarajan
Ashish Raj
Austin Roorda
Philip Sabes
David Schaffer
Christoph E. Schreiner
Seth Shipman
Laura Waller
Joni Wallis
Michael Yartsev