The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) has awarded the Swartz Prize for Theoretical and Computational Neuroscience to Ila Fiete, professor within the Division of Mind and Cognitive Sciences, affiliate member of the McGovern Institute for Mind Analysis, and director of the Okay. Lisa Yang Integrative Computational Neuroscience Middle. The SfN, the world’s largest neuroscience group, introduced that Fiete acquired the prize for her breakthrough analysis modeling hippocampal grid cells, a element of the navigational system of the mammalian mind.
“Fiete’s physique of labor has already considerably formed the sector of neuroscience and can proceed to take action for the foreseeable future,” states the announcement from SfN.
“Fiete is taken into account one of many strongest theorists of her technology who has performed extremely influential work demonstrating that grid cell networks have attractor-like dynamics,” says Hollis Cline, a professor on the Scripps Analysis Institute of California and head of the Swartz Prize choice committee.
Grid cells are discovered within the cortex of all mammals. Their distinctive firing properties, making a neural illustration of our environment, enable us to navigate the world. Fiete and collaborators developed computational fashions displaying how interactions between neurons can result in the formation of periodic lattice-like firing patterns of grid cells and stabilize these patterns to create spatial reminiscence. They confirmed that as we transfer round in house, these neural patterns can combine velocity indicators to offer a consistently up to date estimate of our place, in addition to detect and proper errors within the estimated place.
Fiete additionally proposed that a number of copies of those patterns at completely different spatial scales enabled environment friendly and high-capacity illustration. Subsequent, Fiete and colleagues labored with a number of collaborators to design experimental checks and set up uncommon proof that these pattern-forming mechanisms underlie the operate of reminiscence sample dynamics within the mind.
“I’m really honored to obtain the Swartz Prize,” says Fiete. “This prize acknowledges my group’s efforts to decipher the circuit-level mechanisms of cognitive capabilities involving navigation, integration, and reminiscence. It additionally acknowledges, in its focus, the bearing-of-fruit of dynamical circuit fashions from my group and others that specify how individually easy components mix to generate the longer-lasting reminiscence states and complicated computations of the mind. I’m proud to have the ability to symbolize, in some measure, the work of my unbelievable college students, postdocs, collaborators, and mental mentors. I’m indebted to them and grateful for the possibility to work collectively.”
Based on the SfN announcement, Fiete has contributed to the sector in lots of different methods, together with modeling “how entorhinal cortex might work together with the hippocampus to effectively and robustly retailer massive numbers of recollections and developed a outstanding methodology to discern the construction of intrinsic dynamics in neuronal circuits.” This modeling led to the invention of an inside compass that tracks the route of 1’s head, even within the absence of exterior sensory enter.
“Lately, Fiete’s group has explored the emergence of modular group, a line of labor that elucidates how grid cell modularity and basic cortical modules may self-organize from easy genetic gradients,” states the SfN announcement. Fiete and her analysis group have proven that even when the biophysical properties underlying grid cells of various scale are principally comparable, steady variations in these properties may end up in discrete groupings of grid cells, every with a distinct operate.
Fiete was acknowledged with the Swartz Prize, which features a $30,000 award, in the course of the SfN annual assembly in San Diego.
Different latest MIT winners of the Swartz Prize embody Professor Emery Brown (2020) and Professor Tomaso Poggio (2014).