News

  • January 20, 2016 | By Max Versace

    cerebral_cortexToday, a new article titled Resonant Cholinergic Dynamics in Cognitive and Motor Decision-Making: Attention, Category Learning, and Choice in Neocortex, Superior Colliculus, and Optic Tectum was published on Frontiers in Neuroscience (20 January 2016 | http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2015.00501). The article, directly derived from my PhD research on laminar mechanisms of memory and perception in the cerebral cortex, was written in collaboration with Jesse Palma. The article elaborates on links between attention, learning, and cholinergic modulation during decision making within several brain systems, both cognitive and motor . We further discuss the homologs between the mammalian superior colliculus and the avian optic tectum lead to predictions about how multimodal map learning may occur in the mammalian and avian brain and how such learning may be modulated by acetycholine. Link to the article can be found here. Absract below.


     

    Abstract: Freely behaving organisms need to rapidly calibrate their perceptual, cognitive, and motor decisions based on continuously changing environmental conditions. These plastic changes include sharpening or broadening of cognitive and motor attention and learning to match the behavioral demands that are imposed by changing environmental statistics. This article proposes that a shared circuit design for such flexible decision-making is used in specific cognitive and motor circuits, and that both types of circuits use acetylcholine to modulate choice selectivity. Such task-sensitive control is proposed to control thalamocortical choice of the critical features that are cognitively attended and that are incorporated through learning into prototypes of visual recognition categories. A cholinergically-modulated process of vigilance control determines if a recognition category and its attended features are abstract (low vigilance) or concrete (high vigilance). Homologous neural mechanisms of cholinergic modulation are proposed to focus attention and learn a multimodal map within the deeper layers of superior colliculus. This map enables visual, auditory, and planned movement commands to compete for attention, leading to selection of a winning position that controls where the next saccadic eye movement will go. Such map learning may be viewed as a kind of attentive motor category learning. The article hereby explicates a link between attention, learning, and cholinergic modulation during decision making within both cognitive and motor systems. Homologs between the mammalian superior colliculus and the avian optic tectum lead to predictions about how multimodal map learning may occur in the mammalian and avian brain and how such learning may be modulated by acetycholine.

    Link to the article can be found here.

  • The Neuromorphics Lab brings Artificial Brains to the Science Museum, Boston

    September 3, 2014 | By Max Versace

    SAMSUNGBen Lawson (Neuromorphics Lab, UROP Program at Boston University) and Tim Seemann (former Neuromorphics Lab, now at Neurala) have worked together in the summer 2014 to devise new algorithmic implementation for a Mars Rover permanent exhibit Neurala and the Neuromorphics Lab are managing at the Science Museum, Boston. The UROP project, titled "Are Virtual Tests with Object Detection Algorithms Practical for Real World Applications?", focuses on improving the autonomous capability of the robot to visually detect objects of interest. Read the rest of this entry »

  • Learning to Navigate in a Virtual World using Optic Flow and Stereo Disparity Signals

    August 24, 2014 | By Max Versace

    mobile_robotThe Neuromorphics Lab is has just published a new article that explains how optic flow and learning can be used to improve navigation in a mobile robot. This is the abstract of the article just appeared in Artificial Life and Robotics:

    "Navigating in a complex world is challenging in that the rich, real environment provides a very large number of sensory states that can immediately precede a collision. Biological organisms such as rodents are able to solve this problem, effortlessly navigating in closed-spaces by encoding in neural representations distance toward walls or obstacles for a given direction." Read the rest of this entry »

  • Max Versace at NASA Ames

    May 7, 2014 | By Max Versace

    Neuromorphics Lab Director Massimiliano Versace visited NASA Ames, where it gave a talk on autonomous navigation on land robot and collision avoidance on UAVs.

    NASA Ames is particularly active in the NextGen Airspace Project, where they work with the FAA to develop activities in the area of air traffic management.

     

  • Max Versace at NASA Langley

    April 10, 2014 | By Max Versace

    "If aliens had access to YouTube they would think the Earth was populated by robots." But as robotics expert Massimiliano Versace told a group at NASA Langley, that is not true – yet. And it is primarily because there are three barriers or "miracles that need to happen.

    For robots to become as commonplace as they were in the 1960s TV show, "The Jetsons," Versace says engineers need to develop a smart mind, a powerful brain and an inexpensive body. The role model for this kind of robot in real life, as in fiction, is the human being.

    Read the rest of this entry »

  • TEDx Fulbright: Max Versace, Director of the Neuromorphics Lab, talks about the future of robotics

    April 7, 2014 | By Max Versace

    If an alien watched all the videos on YouTube, he would think that the world was full of robots. But, it's not. Why not? What will it take to get robots out of YouTube and into the real world? Read the rest of this entry »

  • Learning to Navigate in a Virtual World using Optic Flow and Stereo Disparity Signals

    March 31, 2014 | By Max Versace

    The following article from the Neuromorphics Lab is in press in Artificial Life and Robotics.: "Navigating in a complex world is challenging in that the rich, real environment provides a very large number of sensory states that can immediately precede a collision. Biological organisms such as rodents are able to solve this problem, effortlessly navigating in closed-spaces by encoding in neural representations distance toward walls or obstacles for a given direction."

    Read the rest of this entry »

  • Neuromorphics Lab NASA STTR Phase II program talk at NASA Langley

    March 3, 2014 | By Max Versace

    Max Versace, Director of the Neuromorphics Lab, was invited to give a talk at the NASA Langley Research Center in Virginia, guest of Mark  Motter, Ph.D., PE NASA Langley Research Center Electronics System Branch.

    The talked, titled "Neuromorphic solutions for autonomous land and aerial vehicles", focused on the work done between the lab, NASA, and Neurala in land and areal robots.

    (In the picture, Max Versace with Mark Motter) Read the rest of this entry »

  • Neuromorphic Reaching and Grasping in an iRobot Create

    March 2, 2014 | By Max Versace

    The primary objective of this project is to develop an adaptive robot that interacts with a human user, potentially paralyzed, via an EEG-based brain-machine interface (BMI). Using a VIrtual Environment (VE) is a standard procedure in the Neuromorphics Lab, which allows to experiment ad libitum in software to, basically, get the model right, before dealing with physical limitation of robots. A description of prior posts on the topic can be found here. This video shows how the user can control a virtual replica of the iRobot Create robot to look for, reach, and grasp an object of interest.  Read the rest of this entry »

  • The NL featured on New Scientist

    February 20, 2014 | By Max Versace

    The Neuromorphics Lab featured in an article on New Scientist by Hal Hodson.
    "Processors used in gaming and supercomputers could give robots much more human-like minds, enabling them to navigate the skies and explore Mars autonomously." Read the rest of this entry »

Collaborators

The Neuromorphics Lab is highly collaborative with connections across both academia and industry.