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People

Benjamin Torben Nielsen (HUJI)

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I received my M.Sc in Artificial Intelligence in 2004, during which I got introduced to the amazing nervous systems of invertebrates. When I embarked for a Ph.D. my fascination for invertebrate nervous systems continued and I found out that a lot of brain computations were taken care of by the dendrites of neurons. I subsequently studied dendritic morphologies and their influence on brain processing. After obtaining my Ph.D in 2008 I continued in academia by taking up post-doctoral positions at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (Japan) and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem (Israel). Slowly I realized that while neurons are the computational elements of the brain, they participate in larger networks and have to be studied as such. At the Hebrew University in the Yarom and Segev labs, I did a post-doc funded by the CEREBNET (Marie Curie) program and studied how intrinsic rhythms emerge in networks composed of potentially silent neurons in the Inferior Olive. After a brief stint (2012-2013) at the Blue Brain Project at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (Switzerland), I took a group leader position at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (Japan).

Charlotte Arlt (UCL-WI)

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I received my Bachelor of Science degree in neuroscience from Cologne University, Germany in 2011. During internships with Samuel S.-H. Wang from Princeton University, NJ, USA and Michael Häusser from UCL, UK, I developed a strong interest in the cerebellum and learned the technique of in vivo two-photon microscopy to monitor climbing fiber input in the cerebellar cortex. In October 2011, I started my PhD as a Cerebnet Marie Curie fellow in Michael Häusser's laboratory. 

I am interested in how sensory information is encoded and memories are acquired and stored on a network level. Fascinated by the homogeneity in structure along with the heterogeneity in function of the cerebellum, I am investigating the role of the cerebellar cortex in memory formation and its coding mechanisms. To this aim, I am combining two-photon calcium imaging with electrophysiological recordings in vivo

Cullen Owens (Erasmus-C)

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As a philosophy major at Boston University, I immediately became interested in ultimate questions of consciousness. However, after teaching in public and private schools in the United States, my interests shifted to proximate questions of consciousness, how it comes about, rather than why. Working at a residential institution for children with Autism we used applied behavior analysis methodologies to improve behavior. My experience at the New England Center for Children fostered my interest in neuroscience and I began studying biology and neuroscience at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. There, I studied the behavioral and neurotoxic effects of the illicit drug MDMA, on rodents. I subsequently joined a lab as a research assistant at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and later received my Master’s degree in Psychology at Boston University while doing my thesis in Professor Howard Eichenbaum’s laboratory. I began my PhD at the University of Delaware under the guidance of Dr. Amy Griffin, investigating physiological correlates of learning and memory in the rat hippocampus and mPFC.

Currently, I am enrolled in the PhD program at Erasmus MC, in Rotterdam, The Netherlands under the guidance of Professor Chris de Zeeuw, investigating the cerebellar role in timing and associative learning. Specifically, I use extracellular multiunit recordings of Purkinje cells in combination with high speed whisker tracking during a conditional discrimination task to investigate how the integration of sensory and motor information and learning of such processes is represented in the cerebellum. We are using an array of techniques to probe these questions in order to obtain both a top-down and bottom-up approach.

Although these methodologies may be a far cry from understanding consciousness, it is my belief that learning and memory are the foundations from which “higher” cognitive skills can arise, and are therefore an excellent approach for scientific inquiry. 

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