February 8, 2011
School of Biotechnology, Amritapuri
100 billion neurons and 100 trillion synapses in the human brain process and transmit information throughout the body.
That information translates into learning, perception, action and interaction.
Cognitive science examines how and why these processes occur and the influence they have on how man and other animals extract and use information gathered from their external environments.
It also explains how knowledge is converted into action and communication.
Serving as an invaluable resource of information, Cognitive Science plays a vital role in society.
Along with Nano, Bio, and Information Technology, Cognitive Science is considered to be one of the four pillars of the 21st century. Yet it is the least represented in the Indian scientific world.
In view of this, the Department of Science and Technology (DST) took a special initiative for research in Cognitive Science in the 11th Five Year Plan.
The Government of India, under the Cognitive Science Initiative (CSI), recently awarded a Cognitive Science grant to Amrita’s School of Biotechnology.
The focus on Amrita’s research will be modeling of neural architecture.
The objectives of the study include: understanding the neuronal role in signal propagation and information processing in the cerebellum; and the analysis of cerebellar microcircuits for electronic neural processor design.
Reconstructing salient network properties from their constitutive elements, as well as predicting the role of a single neuron in the network, are being targeted as the outcomes of the mathematical modeling.
The connection between molecular mechanisms, such as plasticity and cognitive function will also be investigated.
Finally, the processing power of the brain will be explored and implemented with electronic devices that have the potential to be used in machine learning, robotics, haptics and related bio-inspired applications.
“The neural architectural design will be advantageous in understanding and using massive parallelism and redundancy. Creating a sound neural design will allow Amrita to model large systems of spiking neurons in real time,” remarked Dr. Shyam Diwakar, Amrita School of Biotechnology.
Directing the research, Dr. Diwakar, will work in collaboration with Amrita’s Department of Electronics and Communication Engineering. Prof. Bipin Nair, from the School of Biotechnology, will serve as co-investigator in the project.
The Cognitive Science Initiative promises to revolutionize research and Amrita is leading the way.