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The Swartz Foundation for Computational Neuroscience

From my perspective, cognitive computing is "neuroscientifically-inspired computing". The flip side of which is "computationallly-enabled (inspired) neuroscience".

Today, a major force shaping the field of computational neuroscience is Dr. Jerome (Jerry) Swartz.  Dr. Swartz is an incredible human being: a scientist (an inventor of over 200 patents), a technological innovator (winner of National Medal of Technology), a successful entrepreneur (founder of Symbol Technologies -- recently acquired by Motorola), and a philanthropist.

In 1994, Dr. Swartz established the Swartz Foundation. The Foundation has established 3 centers at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Columbia University and UC San Diego, and has partnered with the Sloan Foundation to establish five centers at Salk Institute, Cal Tech, NYU/Courant, Brandeis, and UC San Francisco. In effect, the Foundation has created a "Virtual Neuroscience Institute" that brings together the very best minds in the field together.

Recently, I had an opportunity to visit the Swartz Center for Computational Neuroscience at UC San Diego, and to spend time with its director, Dr. Scott Makeig. The center is equipped with state-of-the-art EEG labs and a high-performance compute cluster. Dr. Makeig's personal interest is in applying Independent Component Analysis (a la Bell and Sejnowski) to EEG data. EEG data analysis allows us to understand how multiple brain areas interact dynamically in exhibiting a number of cognitive phenomena. He has led the development of the widely used EEGLAB software which "is an interactive Matlab toolbox for processing continuous and event-related EEG, MEG and other electrophysiological data using independent component analysis (ICA), time/frequency analysis, artifact rejection, and several modes of data visualization". Dr. Makeig has formed an impressive array of partnerships and projects, and has attracted top-notch collaborators. Very recently, EEGLAB was used by Professor Robert Knight and colleagues at UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco in their paper "High Gamma Power Is Phase-Locked to Theta Oscillations in Human Neocortex" that appeared in Science, 15 September 2006, 313: 1626-1628. Due to its noninvasive nature, EEG is likely to have a number of mainstream applications in brain-machine interfaces.


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