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Psychological Science
2021 Project Proposal

Analyzing functional brain activity and its associated behaviors

Hadley Bergstrom (Psychological Science) and Bojana Zupan (Psychological Science)

Project Type -B - Flexible:  It will be in-person if we are allowed to have URSI students on campus, but it will become a remote project if not.

Understanding brain function requires the ability to image neuronal activity and then process neuronal network computations in real time and space. Here at Vassar, we have recently developed a miniaturized microscope (i.e., the Miniscope) that allows us to peer deep inside the brain to study neuronal activity at single cell resolution and at high speed. This technology produces terabytes of high-dimensional video data, creating challenges in both data processing and data analysis. Last year a team of URSI students constructed a computational architecture derived from a series of open-source packages in Python to address these challenges. This team also implemented other analysis tools, specifically DeepLabCut, to correlate behavioral data with its corresponding neural activity. This URSI project will 1) apply the Miniscope and behavioral analytic pipeline to numerous experimental videos to obtain quantifiable neural and behavioral activity patterns, and 2) begin to develop a set of data analytic tools using machine learning to decode the relationship between brain activity and behavior.

Prerequisites: Experience or interest in programming, data science, big data, machine learning, neuroscience, psychology, and/or cognitive science is preferred. The project will involve working with a team that will include fellow URSI students and faculty, so we encourage students who have some but not all of the relevant experience or interests to apply.

How should students express interest in this project?  Profs. Bergstrom and Zupan will contact applicants to schedule interviews.

This is an 8-week project running from June 7 – July 31