Department of Science and Technology of the Government of India has awarded a new grant under the cognitive Science initiative (CSI).
Cognitive Science is the study of the processes by which the humans and other animals come to know properties of their external environment and convert that knowledge into action as well as relay that knowledge to others by means of communication. As a result, Cognitive Science has a vital role to play in several socially important areas such as mental health, social engineering, education and computer technology. It is assumed that Cognitive Science is one of the four pillars of the 21st Century along with Nano, Bio, and Information Technology. Of the four, Cognitive Science is the least represented in the Indian scientific scenario. In view of this, DST took special initiative for research in Cognitive Science in the 11th Five Year Plan. Cognitive Science Research Initiative (CSI) of DST promises to revolutionize research in various fields such as, a) nature and origin of mental disorders of psychological, social and neurochemical origin; b) design of better learning tools and educational paradigms; and design of better software technologies and artificial intelligence devices. In addition to promoting basic research and infrastructure in this area, human resource development has also been identified as an integral part for success of this initiative.
The main goals of this Amrita study will include understanding neuronal role in signal propagation and information processing in a central neuronal network. The other major focus will be on the analysis of cerebellar microcircuits for designing electronic neural processors. The targeted outcome in terms of mathematical modeling will be the reconstruction of salient network properties starting from their constitutive elements and predictions on the role of single neurons in the network. This study will include the connection between molecular mechanisms like plasticity with cognitive functions. Brain shows a seemingly linear mechanism and this work will explore the seemingly linear nature of brain and implement the processing power in an electronic device that could be used for a variety of machine learning, robotics, haptics and related bio-inspired applications. The design of a plausible neural architecture will be of greater advantage in understanding and using massive parallelism and redundancy compared to other architectures. Also this new design will allow us to model large systems of spiking neurons in real time.
The main work will be led by Dr. Shyam Diwakar and will be a collaborative study with Department of Electronics and Communication Engineering at Amrita School of Engineering. The co-investigator of this project is Prof. Bipin Nair. Two grants (funded separately in 2011(2010 call) and 2012 (2011 call)) support two different aspects of the work towards understanding the cognitive nature of the cerebellar circuit.
February 9, 2011